James “Jim” Patrick Donahue, the youngest son of well-known television show host, Phil Donahue, died suddenly last week of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 51. He lived and practiced law in Honolulu.
Mr. Donahue and his four siblings spent their early years in Dayton when their father was at the start of his broadcast career and developing his history-making talk show.
“Their kids played with my kids everyday from the time they were in kindergarten to the time they were freshmen in high school,” said Maddi Breslin of Centervile, a neighbor and close friend who retains close ties with the Donahue family and describes “Jimmy” as a thoughtful little boy who had lots of friends. “I dearly loved him and thought of him as one of my own kids.”
For more than 20 years, Mr. Donahue worked for the Ralph Nader group, Essential Information, as an investigative researcher and writer.
“The Center has lost a human being of iron integrity and fundamental values regarding a just society,” Ralph Nader said in a statement. “Jim was a first-rate researcher who set a standard for accuracy in his work that was unsurpassed, especially about endemic corporate abuses. His generation needs the example of what he stood for.”
John Richard, Jim’s colleague at Essential Information, added, “Jim was a true warrior who fought the injustices of the world. He was a passionate and independent thinker who sought the truth. We were so inspired by his work and his energy that we are establishing a fellowship in his name for passionate young activists.”
In a message to friends, Marlo Thomas described her stepson as “a great light in our family, a funny character and an independent spirit.”
Mr. Donahue is survived by his father, Phil Donahue; his mother, Margaret Cooney; his step-mother, Marlo Thomas; three brothers, Michael, Kevin and Daniel and sister, Mary Rose.
According to an official statement, Mr. Donahue was cremated and his ashes “were scattered by his family in the beautiful, warm and tranquil waters of Honolulu that he loved, and where he will forever be at peace.”