Dr. David Cornelius Donovan II, pathologist, dies

Director of pathology at Bon Secours had also been medical adviser to Prisoner Rights Information System of Maryland Inc.

  • Dr. David C. Donovan
Dr. David C. Donovan
April 13, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Dr. David Cornelius Donovan II, former director of pathology at Bon Secours Hospital who had also had been an assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, died April 3 of heart failure at his Chestertown home.

The former longtime Timonium resident was 82.

The son of a road builder and a homemaker, Dr. Donovan was born in Staten Island, N.Y., and raised in New York City, where he graduated in 1946 from Regis High School.

He was a 1950 graduate of Fordham University and earned his medical degree in 1954 from the State University of New York College of Medicine in New York City.

Between 1955 and 1957, he completed an internship at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and the Manhattan Veterans Administration Hospital.

He served in the Air Force from 1957 to 1959, and was stationed at the Air Force Hospital at Keesler Air Force base in Biloxi, Miss.

Dr. Donovan was a fellow in pathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from 1959 to 1960 and was a staff pathologist for three years at Genesee Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.

He came to Baltimore in 1963 when he was appointed director of pathology at Bon Secours Hospital and also director of medical education.

While working at the West Baltimore hospital, he was an instructor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1965 to 1975, and was assistant professor of pathology from 1975 to 1980.

After leaving Bon Secours in 1980, he was director of pathology at Chester River Hospital Center in Chestertown, until retiring in 2005.

Dr. Donovan had been a consultant to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a member of the Medical Laboratory Technician Program at Essex Community College.

Dr. Donovan, who wrote widely on medical issues, was a member of the Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Society, and was a fellow of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

Other professional memberships included the American Association for the Study of Nepotistic Diseases, Maryland Society of Pathologists and the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland.

In his retirement, Dr. Donovan brought his professional expertise and years of experience to bear in his work as medical adviser to the Prisoner Rights Information System of Maryland Inc., a state-funded agency that provides legal services to Maryland Division of Correction inmates.

"After retiring, he began looking at files for me checking on medical conditions of Division of Correction inmates. We had a number of interesting cases over the years," said Stephen Z. Meehan, deputy principal counsel with the Chestertown organization.

"The biggest thing he did was being the intellectual muscle behind getting uniform hepatitis C treatment for inmates in Maryland prisons. In 2003, we had sued on behalf of an inmate and then the state adopted a uniform protocol in the treatment of hepatitis C cases," said Mr. Meehan.

"He was an expert witness and was 81 when he appeared in federal court in a jury trial. I think it was the highlight of his career. He could have taken off in his 70s, played golf and played it safe, but he didn't, " he said.

"He wanted to improve medical care for inmates. He was an advocate and did it without a lot of fanfare. He got busy and got right down to brass tacks," Mr. Meehan said.

Mr. Meehan said that Dr. Donovan approached his work with a great deal of seriousness and thoroughness and did so until the end of his life.

"I would say he was zealous. He was a Type-A guy who was very intelligent and Jesuit educated, so everything had to be right and he was committed to getting it right," he said. "I consider him an unsung hero."

Mr. Meehan said the "5-foot-5 Irishman, who had a great sense of humor even though he was a conservative," was a devoted fan of the New York Yankees and Notre Dame University athletics.

"He was a voracious reader and kept up with medical knowledge and techniques until the end of his life," said his son, David Cornelius Donovan III of Herndon, Va.

His wife of 54 years, the former Elizabeth Ann "Lizann" Curtin, a registered nurse whom he had met during his internship at Lenox Hill Hospital, died last year. She had been an emergency room nurse at Chester River Hospital.

Dr. Donovan was a communicant of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Chestertown, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Saturday.

In addition to his son, Dr. Donovan is survived by two daughters, Julia Ann Donovan of Odenton and Elizabeth D. MacLeod of Chestertown; and eight grandchildren.


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