A longtime journalist's life: Fair, accurate, passionate reporting
Friends and family remembered Jeffery M. Donahue last week as a loving husband and doting father and grandfather.
Co-workers and people he met in the course of a long career as a reporter and editor recalled his fairness, accuracy and passion for a job to which he devoted 35 years.
Donahue suffered a heart attack and died Feb. 18 at Grant Medical Center in Columbus. Services were held Feb. 21 in Zanesville.
At the time of his death, he was special projects editor for ThisWeek Community News and also had been doing beat reporting recently covering the city of Bexley.
Donahue worked two stints at ThisWeek -- from 1995-99 and from 2003 until his death. He served as editor of the Grove City Record for several years and was instrumental in establishing what is now the ThisWeek Marysville News.
As special projects editor, he helped develop a multi-part print and online series about how Walmart affects communities that won first place for in-depth reporting from the Ohio Newspaper Association just Feb. 14.
State Rep. Cheryl Grossman, (R-Grove City), worked with Donahue when she was mayor of Grove City. She said she was saddened to hear the news, describing Donahue as very involved and inclusive.
"He'll be sorely missed," Grossman said. "He certainly did a great job. He was very dedicated to his responsibilities at the paper."
Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said Donahue was "one of the most fair and probing reporters" that he had worked with.
"He's a compliment to the world of journalism," Stage said. "I'm sorry for his family. He's a good guy."
City Administrator Chuck Boso said Donahue could always been seen with a smile, adding that interviews with him were like visits from an old friend.
"Jeff was what I'd call a square shooter," Boso said. "He didn't have any prejudged positions, and he always looked for the truth. ... Those who knew him will surely miss him, and those who didn't know him surely missed out."
Former ThisWeek Executive Editor Ben Cason said, "Jeff understood the importance of accuracy and he always tried to be fair to everyone. He respected all, but feared none."
Stephen Zonars, former general manager at ThisWeek Community Newspapers, said working with Donahue was "always a breath of fresh air.
"His credentials as a journalist were impeccable ... but Jeff always wanted to try and chart a new course for how community journalism and news could better serve readers."
ThisWeek Managing Editor Joe Meyer worked with Donahue since the 2012 merger of ThisWeek Community Newspapers and Suburban News Publications. During that time, Donahue dealt with some major health issues, but always insisted his plan was to return to full-time duty as soon as possible.
"He struggled mightily to keep working through some terrible episodes and mounting challenges," Meyer said. "I so admire the way he fought to keep doing the job he loved, just (recently) attending the ONA convention he helped to organize, on our behalf."
Donahue was an active member of the Ohio Newspaper Association, where he was on the organization's weekly newspaper committee from 2006-2010, serving as chairman from 2008-10. He was also a member of the ONA convention committee for three years, serving as chairman in 2010.
Donahue worked as a reporter and editor at several Ohio newspapers, including The Advocate in Newark, The Times-Recorder in Zanesville, The Daily Times in Marietta and The Journal-Leader in Caldwell. In addition, he did corporate communications for Intellirisk Management Corp. of Columbus and the Bethesda Health Care System in Zanesville.
In addition to his wife, Joyce Eppley Donahue, he is survived by a son, Keith E. (Angie) Donahue of Cambridge; daughter, Karen Slagle of Lowell, Ohio; sisters, Cecilia Armstrong of Waterford and Kim Donahue of Marietta; grandchildren, Jordan Harris, Amaya Slagle, Jace Slagle and Liam Donahue.