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Tribute to the Captain Patrick ‘Pat’ Donnelly

Patrick Donnelly. Courtesy photo.
Patrick Donnelly. Courtesy photo.

My father was Richard Patrick “Pat” Donnelly; aka Captain Pat, Paddy, Dad, Daddy, Papa, The Duck, Patooch, Lion Pat and the Fearless Leader, who was summoned to Heaven from his home Tuesday, June 22, at 6:18 p.m.

He was surrounded by prayer, with his family as he “sailed” into the “ports” of Heaven after a battle with aggressive neck and shoulder cancer.

He was extremely active in the City of Buena Park and served as the General Chairman for the Buena Park Noon Lions Club’s Annual Silverado Days for decades, in connection with the City of Buena Park.

He led a folk music youth group at St. Pius V Catholic Church for 52-years. He was extremely well-known and loved by the City of Buena Park, St. Pius V Church and the Community in general; everyone who met him loved him.

His vast and incredible life of selfless sacrifice over the years, and impact on so many, is a deep legacy he leaves with us that will last forever.

Pat Donnelly began life as part of a duo, as he was born an identical twin on Feb. 9, 1943, in Long Beach, Calif., to William “Bill” E. and Isabel Becker-Donnelly. Pat was an “Eagle Scout” and a “Sea Scout” with a rank of Quartermaster in his teen years. His passion for sailing was a constant throughout his life that grew into a passion for his entire family.

During the 1960‘s, Pat and his twin brother, Robert Michael “Mike” Donnelly, were part of a large folk music group called, “The Troubadour Singers” as well as a trio called, “Bob and The Leveemen.” The trio was very popular and had quite the “following” during the Coffee House days of the 1960’s.

It was during one of the concerts at, “Mon Ami Coffee House” in Tustin where Pat’s beautiful wife, Sandy, came in while on a date, to hear the trio play. Pat took one look at her; turned to his twin brother while on stage and said, “I’m going to marry that girl.” Many years ago, that unbelievable verbal exchange was verified by Pat’s twin brother. Six weeks after they met, Pat and Sandy were engaged and six months later, they were married. Since that time they’ve lived an incredible 57-year adventure together.

In 1966, after being inspired at a marriage retreat, Pat and Sandy started a folk music group called, “Joy Inc.” at St. Pius V Catholic Church in Buena Park. The group provided young adults a safe place to fellowship, worship, and learn about the Lord. Pat had a unique quality that always made everyone feel loved and accepted. “Joy Inc.” led worship at 6:30 p.m. Mass with Pat at the “helm” for more-than 50 years.

The impact and legacy he left to the decades of individuals who have been a part of “Joy” has had a profound and life-changing ripple effect for so many that it cannot be calculated in numbers nor described in words. His legacy lives on through the extended family that “Joy Inc.” is and has always been.

Pat’s professional career was also one of adventure. Besides being a folk singer, he was a glazier in his early years. After getting married, he saw an ad for an industrial engineer. He checked out three library books on the subject; read them all in record time, interviewed, and got the position. Pat could read 1,800 words per minute.

Once hired, he worked at McDonnell Douglas for 17-years in aerospace and then moved to Northrop Grumman, where he constructed beautiful computer rooms in record time when they told him it was impossible. After two decades at Northrop, he went to work as, “The West Coast Regional Director” for “Exodus Communications.” He retired at the age of 62. Then, because of popular demand, he put his vast knowledge to work as an independent consultant and began traveling across the country building computer room facilities. However, he always made sure to be back home for church on Sunday night.

Pat’s involvement with the “City of Buena Park” and “Silverado Days” began in 1972 when “Joy Inc.” was awarded the first of two “Disneyland Community Service Awards.’ That led to the start of a relationship with the “Buena Park Noon Lion’s Club.”

Since 1972, Pat and “Joy Inc.” organized, hired, and ran the “Entertainment” at “Silverado Days.” In 1977, Pat was awarded the prestigious, “Americana Award” for “Outstanding Service to the ‘City of Buena Park’.”

After many years of prompting, Pat officially joined the “Buena Park Noon Lion’s Club” in 1994. Because of his leadership, numerous talents/gifts, and people skills, Pat found himself at the “helm” as “Chairman of Silverado Days.” He held that position for many years continuing his commitment to the “Buena Park Noon Lions Club” and “Silverado Days” to the very end.
Pat was a leader from a very early age. With every project under his direction, it was an “all hands on deck” effort that was fun and a privilege to be a part of, whether it was sailing, preparing and firing a professional fireworks show, preparing for a church service, building a computer room, or setting-up a band at “Silverado Days.”

He lived unafraid, valued each and every individual, never did anything halfway, and always got the “job” done.

Pat was an adventurer. He sailed the ocean yearly and his favorite place to be was on a sailboat moored at the “Isthmus” on “Catalina Island” with his family and friends. He scaled mountains, sailed yachts, flew airplanes, and always shared all he had with others and welcomed everyone. His example of living the scripture was, “Be Not Afraid” and he was always putting his faith in Jesus, which continues to live-on through his children, grandchildren, and all of those whose lives he touched.
He knew without a doubt where he was going after leaving this world. He was selfless, appreciative, hilarious, encouraging, fun, and everyone who met him, loved him.

He was a profound blessing to everyone who knew him. He had a magnetic personality with an unmatched strength of character and moral compass that always pointed to the Lord.

Pat is survived by his wife, Sandy; daughter, Deborah “Debbie” Donnelly; son, Daniel “Danny” Donnelly; daughter-in-law, Rachel Donnelly; three grandchildren, Ella Gianna, Miles Patrick, Madeline Joy; son-in-law to be, Larry Padilla; identical twin sisters, Susan “Susie” Donnelly-Bedard, Sara Donnelly-Victora; along with spouses, Moe Bedard, Larry Victora; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Memorial Services will be held Friday, Aug. 6, 10:30 a.m., at St. Pius V Catholic Church 7691 Orangethorpe Ave., in Buena Park.

This article was written by Deborah “Debbie” Donnelly.

1 Comment

  1. Bless him and his family. The world needs more people like him! I didn’t know him so thank you for sharing life with us.

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