In his 97th year Frank James Donato of Samish Island, WA, passed away on February 25 at Highgate Cottage Senior Living in Bellingham, WA. Frank was born to Antonio and Rosa Donato in Queens, New York on Jan. 6, 1917. He was one of 5 children.
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He and Betty (Dilluvio) were married 70 years. They raised 3 kids. Their son Tony died in 2006.
Frank is survived by Betty and daughters Rose Martinez and Liz Cunningham (all of Bellingham), four grand children; Tanya May (NY), Brandon (NY), Michael (CO) and Natalie Donato (WA); and 5 great-grandchildren.
Frank was a husband and father who led two professional lives; an East coast artist and a West coast craftsman.
His boyhood passion for drawing led him to art school, a career in advertising art, and his own studio in Manhattan. His illustrations for clients such as Coke-Cola and United Technologies appeared in magazines nationwide. Frank's keen eye and sure handmade ordinary fashion models look flawless in print, put new faces into old group photos, and blended multiple pictures into photographic proof of the impossible. After 32 years in the ad biz he left New York and moved west.
Frank's son Tony had discovered the Forth Corner while stationed at Whidbey Island NAS in the 1960s. Frank and Betty came for a visit, decided to stay, and bought land on Samish Island. Daughters Rose and Liz were caught-up in the westward migration. All arrived in this area in 1972.
Frank was an artist but he was also a mechanic, a fixer, a builder and a craftsman. Once established in Skagit County he started a home repair and remodeling company while building his own home on Samish Island. He later worked as a construction supervisor for Skagit Self Help Housing helping dozens of families build their own homes.
He loved working in his beautiful flower garden, visiting with the local pets who stopped by for treats and could never say no to a person or organization in need. Frank was a self taught man who read incessantly. His studio was filled with books on history, art and geography. He will be missed by family and friends.
A crypt-side service will be held at the Mount Vernon Cemetery on March 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of the Kern Funeral Home. You may sign Frank's online guest book at www.kernfuneralhome.com.
Kern Funeral Home
1122 South 3rd Street
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company on Mar. 2, 2014