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In the early hours of February 1, 2024, Robert “Bob” Donaghue died peacefully surrounded by his loved ones at Lahey Hospital. He was an honorable and inspirational man who impacted so many lives around him through his 73 years, the last eleven and a half years considered bonus years as a pancreatic cancer survivor.

Bob was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. He was the son of the late Edith Drapeau Murphy and the late James Donaghue. He was predeceased by his sister, Kara Ann, and his beloved aunt, Lillian Drapeau.

Growing up in Lowell, he was a proud graduate of Keith Academy and then The University of Massachusetts. Upon college graduation, he entered service in the United States Marine Corps, receiving his commission in November 1972 with the rank of Second Lieutenant. His 32 years of service included postings to North Carolina, Cuba, twice to Okinawa, Japan, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Oklahoma, Washington, D.C, Toronto, Canada, Boston, Massachusetts, and many deployments all over the world. He considered a personal highlight of his career to serve as the Commanding Officer of the 25th Marine Regiment. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Marine Corps Reserve Medal.

At the completion of his active-duty service, he had a second career in security operations at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He lovingly referred to “The Brigham” as a place that performed miracles every day including the one he received upon his cancer diagnosis in 2012.  He was honored to contribute to the mission of the hospital. He retired in 2016. During his time at “The Brigham,” he established annual recognition of veterans and military service of Brigham employees and spearheaded the annual Toys for Tots drive.

In retirement, he became an active member of First Church Congregational. He spent his time at the church helping maintain and improve the building and grounds and took pride in serving as liturgist once a month. He was devoted to serving his community by volunteering at the weekly food pantry, particularly through the pandemic. He always ensured the church’s American flag was properly displayed honoring those that had passed, part of his lifelong dedication to flag etiquette.

Bob had an enduring connection to the sea, beginning with the Old Fort in Marblehead and continuing through numerous sailboats owned and lived on throughout his life. In later life, he transitioned to sailing on the roads in an RV. He loved to travel all over the world. He devoted his time and talents to the Marine Corps Reserve Association and the Wardroom Club, serving in a variety of positions including president of both. He loved to go to schools, particularly Lowell Catholic, to teach the next generation the meaning of service, sacrifice, honor, and remembrance. He loved to march in parades for the same reasons. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. He was a lifelong runner and amazed his doctors by finishing a 5K within a year after his pancreatic cancer treatment.

Bob will be deeply missed by his loving wife of 50 years, Barbara; his impossibly proud son and daughter-in-law Sean and Andrea, his grandson, Cooper, his foster children Britta, Lara, and Josh; his sister, Linda, his Hamilton family, including Meeyou and Gramps, Robbie and Willa, Doug and Joanne, and Mark, his many nieces and nephews on both sides of his family, his extended Donaghue family throughout Lowell and surrounding areas, and the wealth of friends, coworkers, and acquaintances he was fortunate to inspire and be inspired by.

All are cordially invited to a celebration of Bob’s life on Saturday February 10, 2024 at the First Church Congregational, 26 Pleasant Street, Methuen, MA. There will be an hour of visitation from 10 am to11 am. Funeral services will follow the visitation at 11:00 am at the church. There will be a meal held in Bob’s honor following the service in the Parish Hall. The burial will be at a future date in the Southern Maine Veteran’s Cemetery in Springvale, Maine.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Marine Corps Reserve Association, First Church Congregational, Toys for Tots, or a charity of special meaning in relation to Bob. To leave an online condolence, please visit Bob’s tribute page at Arrangements are by the Dewhirst Boles Funeral Home, 80 Broadway, Methuen.

To plant a beautiful memorial tree in memory of Col Robert S. Donaghue, please visit our Tree Store.

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