James "Mike" Donovan '60 September 8, 2023 3:28 PM updated: September 8, 2023 3:39 PM
James Michael "Mike" Donovan
March 28, 1938 - May 10, 2023
James Michael “Mike” Donovan, 85, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 surrounded by family and friends at Norton Brownsboro Hospital.
Mike was born on March 28, 1938 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to the late James Patrick and Margaret (Fisher) Donovan. He graduated from Marquette High School in 1956 and Texas A&M University in 1962 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Mike was in the Corps of Cadets and a life-long Aggies fan.
After college graduation, Mike joined Fisher Controls in Marshalltown, Iowa where he met his wife, Betty Dworzak. They married in 1967 and moved to Louisville in 1971 where Mike was President of Donovan Controls until his retirement in 1997.
Mike was a generous and loving husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, uncle, cousin, and friend. A true Irishman, he was very proud of his heritage and enjoyed a good pour! Mike had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed telling jokes. In his wallet he had multiple folded pieces of paper containing hand-written jokes for every occasion! He always made everyone laugh and feel comfortable with his positive attitude. His nicknames were Mr. Wonderful, the World’s Most Interesting Man, and of course, his grandfather name, Bubby.
A life-long entrepreneur with a strong work ethic, Mike had a neighborhood paper route in his youth and started a concession stand business and taxi service in college. He was also an extraordinary salesman who believed in developing relationships with his customers. Mike was a past president and member of the Instrument Society of America (ISA). For ten years he served as a dedicated mayor of the City of Barbourmeade. He also served as an assistant coach and sponsor for several of his son’s baseball teams.
Mike was a long-time member of Mother of Good Counsel Parish and St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. He served as an usher at Mother of Good Counsel and volunteered at the annual picnic for many years.
He was a jack of all trades and had many interests and hobbies. Mike was an excellent self-taught cook and entertainer, famous for his delicious smoked barbecue beef brisket. He enjoyed reading cookbooks, cooking magazines, and newspapers as well as using his iPad in later years. He was a master furniture maker and enjoyed doing woodworking in his basement as well as making homemade beer and wine.
Mike and Betty enjoyed traveling, spending February in Siesta Key and taking family vacations to Hilton Head every summer. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed annual pheasant hunting trips to Iowa and South Dakota and fishing trips to West Virginia and Canada with family and friends. In retirement, he liked spending time at his farm in Shelby County for 30 years.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents, James Patrick Donovan and Margaret Donovan Shaw, and his sister Linda Donovan Zelinka. Mike was predeceased by his brother-in-law Marvin Dworzak and his wife Nancy and also by his brother-in-law David Dworzak.
Mike is survived by his beloved wife of 55 years, Betty Dworzak Donovan; his son James Patrick “Pat” Donovan, MD (Jeannie); his daughter Katie Donovan Melkonian (Geoff); and his four grandchildren, Blair and Patrick Donovan and Vivi and Frank Melkonian. Mike is also survived by his sister-in-law Mary Jane Vieltorf (Paul) and his brother-in-law James Dworzak. Mike also remembers his dear friends Joe and Mary-Jo Broyles and Roger and Celine Kremer.
Special thanks to the wonderful care teams on 5 East and 5 West at Norton Brownsboro Hospital.
Mike’s visitation will be from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, May 15 at Highlands Funeral Home, 3331 Taylorsville Road. His funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, May 16 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, with burial to follow at Calvary Cemetery.
Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Catholic Education Foundation, 401 West Main Street, Suite 806, Louisville, KY 40202 or The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, 943 South First Street, Louisville, KY 40203.
Cheers, Bubby Baby!