Dr. Francis J. Donahoe

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Dr. Francis J. Donahoe, Professor Emeritus of physics at Wilkes University, died on July 30, 2013 in Wilkes-Barre.

A son of Richard A. Donahoe and Elizabeth A. Blasius, Francis was born March 12, 1922 in Ashland. He was an excellent student, a Boy Scout and a hard worker who delivered special delivery packages for the U.S. Postal Service as his first paying job.

He graduated from St. Joseph High School with the highest grades in his class, and pursued his undergraduate degree in physics at LaSalle College while working full time for Westinghouse doing riveting.

The day after he graduated magna cum laude in September 1943, Francis was inducted into the U.S. Army at Philadelphia, joining the 94th Infantry Division to serve in Europe. Taken ill while in action, he was moved to a desk job. Obtaining his discharge in December 1945, Francis remained in Germany working for the U.S. Army.

There he met and married Jindriska "Henriette" Weidner and adopted her two-year-old son, Ingo, bringing them back to Philadelphia where he began his studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Shortly afterward, his son, Dennis Peter, was born.

Francis earned his doctorate in physics in 1954. After graduating, he went to work at the Franklin Institute doing research in thermoelectric devices, for which he was awarded a patent, and as an instructor at LaSalle College from 1956 to 1964.

In 1960, Francis married Lillian Buckley, with whom he enjoyed many years until her death in 2000. In 1964, Dr. Donahoe moved his family to Dallas to join the faculty of Wilkes College, now Wilkes University, where three years later he became chair of the physics department.

During his tenure, his research included phase transformations of metals and theoretical work on the origins of stars and planets. Professor Donahoe published numerous research papers in leading science journals, such as American Scientist, Icarus, Nature, Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids, ACTA Metallurgica and Physical Review, until his retirement in 1985 after which he continued active participation in the American Physical Society (APS) and consulting in high school physics program development.

Francis loved to travel and did so extensively, most recently travelling to New Zealand and, in this country, to Tennessee, Missouri and, only a couple of weeks ago, to New Orleans.

He enjoyed his APS meetings and reunions with his compatriots in the 94th Infantry Division. He was an active member of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association, the Back Mountain Trail and the Harveys Lake Rod & Gun Club.

Francis was preceded in death by his son, Dennis Donahoe; stepson, John 'Jack' Cullinan; brother and sister-in-law, John and Irene Donahoe; nieces, Rosie Donahoe Lang and Janice Pavia.

He will be greatly missed by his son, Ingo Donahoe, and by his extended family who played such a major role in his life - sister, Mary T. Donahoe; nieces and nephews, Maribeth Gilligan (Dan), Joann Desris (Al), Kathie Donahoe (Marty Dattner), Margaret Bythrow (Mark), Theresa Donahoe (John Nestor), Richard Donahoe (Dianne), Rick Lang, Dyan Hegerich (Fred), Ceal Corbett (Chris), Kathy McQuillan Dowe (Mike) and James Buckley (Charlotte); daughter-in-law, Mildred (Cookie) Cullinan; granddaughter, Heather Cullinan Jozwiak (Rob); great-granddaughter, Jackie; and great-great-grandson, Alex.

A funeral will be held at noon Sept. 7 at Gate of Heaven Church, 40 Machell Ave., Dallas, to be followed by a burial service in Ashland.
Published in Times Leader on Aug. 25, 2013
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