Joseph S. Donnell III
Joseph S. Donnell III
Virginia Beach - Joseph S. Donnell III crossed over the bar to be with his maker on March 28, 2012. A native of Winchester, Massachusetts, he was the son of Cdr. Joseph S. and Alice C. Donnell Jr., and born in Annapolis, MD January 21, 1932. Upon graduation from high school, he joined the naval reserve, serving briefly as an AD3 at Oceana NAS in 1949. Always an adventurer, he drove to Alaska in late 1949 with three of his teenage high school classmates, to work first mining gold at a placer mining site 33 miles north of Fairbanks, owned by United States Mining Refining and Smelting, and later on construction of Elmendorf (USAF) airfield and then Point Barrow. He returned to Tufts University with a regular NROTC scholarship graduating in 1954 as a Civil Engineer.
He entered the navy and, although he originally did not intend to make it a career, served 39 years (3 enlisted reserve), achieving the rank of Vice Admiral. His first ship, USS Leary (DDR-879) was followed by command of the minesweeper Kingbird (MSC-194) and then to chief engineer on the Sellers (DDG-11). Other sea tours included XO of the Coontz (DLG-9), command of the Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23), and command of the Sterett (CG-31). He also served as N-5 on 7th Flt. Staff Yokosuka Japan, CofS COMCARGRP5 in Subic Bay Philippines and CRUDESGRU 12 in Mayport, FL where he served as battle group commander aboard the America and Saratoga. Shore duty included NAVWARCOL, SURPAC staff, CRUDESFLOT-4, OP-613, OP-601, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, J-33 Joint Staff, deputy J-5 Joint Staff and Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force US Atlantic Fleet.
Although reluctant to admit it to his blackshoe brethren, he originally aspired to be an aviator but was 11 pounds over the (then) limit of 200 pounds. But flying was a passion so he used the GI Bill to acquire all ratings up to ATP, and for years flew his C-421 Golden Eagle Cessna. Trips to Florida and Maine were frequent and combined for over 4000 flight hours total.
After retirement, he worked for QED Systems of Virginia Beach and AT&T. He was active in the Navy League, Make-a-Wish, Surface Navy Association, Association of Naval Aviators, the AFYMCA, and USO. A lover of animals, he was generous giver to various animal charities as well as to those for various diseases.
He is survived by the love of his life, his wife Judy, daughters Sandra, Erin Scarpa, Lisa Woods, and sons Michael Mawn and Brian Donnell, plus 11 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
No flowers. Donations in remembrance can be made to the local SPCA or the Wounded Warrior Foundation.
Details for Arlington National Cemetery will be provided at a later date. Condolences may be offered to the family at
-Secure the line, one last time.

Published by The Virginian-Pilot on Apr. 1, 2012.
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11 Entries
I was Joe's Chief of Staff and he was a great leader and fine gentleman with a super wife Judy and Brian his son.
Rick Holly
March 26, 2020
Dear Judy,
I was sorry to hear of the passing of Stover (Joe) today by way of our WHS'49 grapevine. I well remember him from our Washington School neighborhood and as a fellow classmate of the Winchester High School graduating class of 1949. I also clearly remember watching you both as you drove away after our last reunion in Burlington. I have memories of the entire Mawn family.
My deepest sympathy to you and your immediate family.
Jack Fudge
April 9, 2012
Having only known Joe through the tremendous adoration and legacy of his kids and grandkids, we extend our deepest condolences to the entire Donnell family during this difficult time.
Susan Tiernan
April 4, 2012
Joe Donnell will be missed. My sincere condolences to his wife, family and friends. Thanks for all the joy and happiness! Wish we had served and flown together, but it was great working at at&t with you. Semper Fidelis
Jim Longi
April 3, 2012
Joe Donnell was a fine gentleman, a great shipmate and a superb naval officer. He was always kind and helpful to those of us coming up behind him, making time for us in his schedule. He will be greatly missed.
My sincere condolences to Judy and his family.
In sympathy,
RADM Jim Stark
Jim Stark
April 2, 2012
Hi Judy,

My sincere condolences. Just got the news about Joe passing on. As you know Chris and I really enjoyed our time with you guys when I was Joe's COS at Surflant. You both were great to work with and work for. Heck of a guy and a Naval Officer!!!! Pretty good ship handler as well.

Take care,

Rick & Chris Holly
Rick Holly
April 2, 2012
My sincere condolences to all family members. I had the honor of knowing Joe during his post-Navy career. There was no finer gentleman in Tidewater.
Kevin Eagle
April 2, 2012
Sincerest condolences to all.
Jennifer Mawn
April 1, 2012
Dear Judy and family--I am so saddened to hear the news of Joe's passing. Terry called me this morning here in Arizona and want you to know that I was shocked as well as saddened. I consider you and Joe one of my best friends with many memories from our time together in the Pentagon and Tantallon! God bless you and your family in this time of grief--I know what you are going through and know Joe is commanding
his largest ship now! Love, Roy and Jean Kraft and Terry andTracey
April 1, 2012
Judy and Family - Mary and I were both very saddened to hear the news today. Spoke with Dad and he also offers his prayers. Admiral Donnell was always there with a word of encouragement for me - from middle school to now, and we will miss him...all our best.
RDML Terry Kraft
April 1, 2012
Sincere condolences to you, Judy, and your family. George, now deceased, and I always enjoyed our social encounters when at The Beach. You, now too, have lost a very good man and husband.
Marion CheginMelbourne
April 1, 2012
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