BRUNSWICK — Donald Allen Gavan, 87, died peacefully March 14 with his children by his side.
Gavan was born in Milwaukee, Wis., on July 10, 1925, the son of the late Harold L. and Loraine E. Gavan, and older brother to the late Joan Shawy. The family lived first in Jeffersonville, Ind., and ultimately made their home in Glen Rock, N.J.
After graduating from Ridgewood High School in 1943, Gavan enlisted in the Army and proudly served in Europe. Captured in France in the fall of 1944, he endured a difficult winter in several prisoner of war camps, ending up in the Stalag VII-A camp in Moosburg, Germany, where he was liberated at the war’s end by American forces led by Gen. George Patton.
After completing a bachelor’s program with a degree in marketing from the University of Notre Dame, Gavan began a very successful advertising career in New York City, working as an account executive for the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample agency for 37 years. He and his wife Katie made their home and raised their family first in Glen Rock, and later in Allendale, N.J.
They retired to Lake Winnepasaukee in New Hampshire to enjoy the lake and mountain views and the birds that frequented their deck and many feeders. In addition to volunteer work at the Squam Lake Natural Science Center, Gavan dedicated himself to memorializing the sacrifice of the 60 New Hampshire servicemen who died as prisoners of war during World War II and in Korea. Thanks to his efforts and the efforts of many other members of the New Hampshire chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War, a monument was erected at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery. The families of all 60 heroes were then located and given Purple Hearts on behalf of those who died.
There were many passions that he enjoyed. In addition to his love of family and God, he was an accomplished bird artist, a fine singer and former Notre Dame Glee Club member and past president, a devoted fan and faithful follower of Notre Dame football, an avid opening day trout fisherman, and a life-long lover of birds and the natural world.
Gavan was a loving father of his three children and their spouses: Kathleen and David Ingmundson, of Woolwich; Sheila Gavan and Christopher Galasso, of Norfolk, Mass.; and Michael and Geri Gavan, of Phoenixville, Pa. He was a proud grandfather of four grandchildren and one great-grandchild: Kelsey and Ross Wollen, and their daughter, Charlotte Kathryn Wollen, of Oakland, Calif.; Erik Ingmundson of Noank, Conn.; Kirstie Ingmundson of Woolwich; and Michelle Loraine Gavan of Phoenixville, Pa.
A funeral mass will be celebrated Saturday at the St. Charles Borromeo Church in Meredith, N.H. Burial at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, N.H., will take place May 17.
In lieu of flowers, donations would be deeply appreciated. Please consider giving to Wounded Warrior Project, 370 7th Avenue, Suite 1802, New York, N.Y. 10001, or St. Charles Borromeo Church, P.O. Box 237, Meredith, NH 03235.