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Jack E. Donato, 87, of Watertown, New York, peacefully passed away on October 19, 2023 at the Hospice Residence of Jefferson County at the Ellis Farm, surrounded by loved ones.
Born on September 25, 1936, in Watertown, he was the son of Nicholas and Mildred Mae (Moore) Donato. He grew up on Portage and South Meadow streets with his siblings Joseph, Robert (Bob), Paul (Dick), Beverly, and Roland (Rollie). After attending Watertown Schools through High School, he worked for a time at Northern Glass and was then drafted into the Army. Most of his Army tour was in Germany near Nuremberg where he served in the motor pool.
Upon his return from the Army, he met and married the love of his life, Edna “Edie” Hoover. They were married on June 4, 1966. During their 55 years of marriage, they had two sons, Jack and Fred, several dogs, and a few grandkids. Jack was a devoted father and husband. He adored babies (especially) and dogs – his face would light up a room when a baby was present or when there was the opportunity to play with a dog. Don’t get us wrong, he loved his adult children and grandchildren, but for babies and dogs, he radiated joy and playfulness on a scale not easily measured.
Over the years, Jack worked as a machinist for a number of local companies including Black Clawson and the New York Air Brake. The vast majority of his work life was spent as a machinist for Hall Ski Lift, which later became Von Roll/American Tramways. He spent over 35 years running just about every machine to help build ski lifts and lift parts.
In his retirement, he enjoyed tinkering on projects, spending time with family, and traveling with Edie – usually to a casino where he would “work on the slot machine trying to get it to pay out” – we all know that’s not how it works, but he enjoyed trying to figure it out. Simple things made him happiest – he often would spend hours working on the German cuckoo clock that he brought back to his mother from his Army days. Sometimes, he would take apart a piece of furniture because it wasn’t quite working “like it should”. Because he came from a large family that lived through the Depression, he appreciated the value of things AND his motor pool/machinist skills helped him to figure out how to make something better. He had a way of working on things combining common sense and a keen awareness of the way things were supposed to work. Whether it was working on a broken down car, turning cable grips on his lathe at the shop, or fine tuning the mechanisms in his cuckoo clock, it was going to be done right! That was a part of him that lasted to the very end – it wasn’t so long ago that he got his car up on floor jacks, pulled off all the wheels, unhooked the brakes, and was at a standstill because he couldn’t quite crawl far enough under to reconnect something. He had an appreciation of hard work and the value of things.
Jack was predeceased by his wife, Edna “Edie” (Hoover) Donato, his five siblings Joseph (Helen) Donato, Robert Donato, Paul “Dick” (Velma Roselli) Donato , Beverly (Fred) Roberts, and Roland “Rollie” Donato.
He is survived by his two sons and their wives Jack N. and Karen M. Donato, and Frederick R. and Susan R. Donato, all of Watertown. His legacy extends to five grandchildren, Megan V. (Kevin) Donato of Liverpool, Anthony Donato of Orlando, Florida, Nicholas Donato (Megan Wilson) of Cicero, Dominic Donato of Watertown, and Kelsee Donato of Watertown. He is also survived by two sisters-in-law Brenda Donato and Pauline Donato both of Watertown as well as many nieces and nephews. Finally, he leaves two grand-dogs, three great-grand-dogs, and three great grand-cats – he would have preferred great grandchildren, but the dogs and cats are good too.
Jack’s family would like to express their debt of gratitude to the many medical providers that helped him through it all. We are especially indebted to the folks at Samaritan on 4 Pavilion and everyone at Hospice of Jefferson County – your efforts helped make his final days as comforting and enjoyable as they could be – a true blessing.
Services to celebrate Jack’s life will be held at the Hart and Bruce Funeral Home on Massey Street in Watertown. Calling hours shall be from 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday, November 11. A memorial service will follow at Noon with subsequent burial at North Watertown Cemetery. The family will host a reception after the ceremony concludes.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations be made in his name to Hospice of Jefferson County OR to the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library.
Online condolences and memories can be shared at www.hartandbrucefh.com