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Frederick M. Donovan

September 17, 1926 ~ March 7, 2018 (age 91)



Frederick M. Donovan, a prominent attorney in Boston for decades, died Tuesday, March 7, in his home in West Hyannisport after battling cancer. He was 91.

Born and raised in the Oak Square neighborhood of Brighton, Mr. Donovan was an altar boy at Our Lady of the Presentation Church and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Waltham in 1944. He served as a third-class petty officer in the US Navy during World War II in London, England.

Mr. Donovan later received his bachelor’s degree from Boston College in 1950 and his law degree from Boston University in 1954.

After being admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1954, he worked as a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1954 to 1956 in San Francisco and Chicago.

In 1956, Mr. Donovan returned to Massachusetts and set up his law practice in Brighton. In 1958, he served as legal counsel to the Legislative Committees of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In 1960, he married Kathleen M. Birmingham, daughter of Leo M. Birmingham, Massachusetts state representative from Brighton from 1929 to 1936 and House Democratic Floor Leaders from 1929 to 1934.

From 1961 to 1968, he served as Assistant Corporation Counsel to the City of Boston under the administration of Mayor John F. Collins. In 1964, he unsuccessfully ran for state representative from the Brighton district.

In 1968, Mr. Donovan returned full time to his law practice in Brighton, where he practiced law for decades. Initially, his law practice was primarily civil in nature, with some criminal cases.  His civil practice covered a broad range of legal topics, including personal injury law, real estate law, wills and estate planning, labor law, business law, and municipal law. In his criminal practice, he represented defendants in the Superior and District Courts at all stages of legal proceedings and jury trials.

Beginning in 1990, he focused his law practice on criminal law. He worked as a public defender with the Suffolk Lawyers for Justice until his retirement in 2012. Colleagues said that he committed to his work defending indigent clients and enjoyed trying cases.

He was an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, and Boston Bruins. He enjoyed playing golf with his family and friends at various golf courses on Cape Cod. He was a member with his wife Kathleen of Cummaquid Golf Course in Yarmouth Port for many years.

Mr. Donovan was the beloved husband of the late Kathleen (Birmingham) Donovan.  Devoted father of Frederick M. Donovan, Jr. & his wife Christine (Mowbray) of Chatham.  Dear brother of Phyllis (Donovan) McCarthy of Brighton and the late Bernard Donovan, Mary Morra, and Rita Mullen.  Loving grandfather of Kate and Emily Donovan.  Also survived by many nieces and nephews.  Funeral from the Lehman, Reen, & McNamara Funeral Home, WEDNESDAY, March 14th at 9:30am.  Followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Columbkille Church, 321 Market St., Brighton at 10:30am.  Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend.  Visiting hours SUNDAY, March 11th from 3-7pm.  Interment Holyhood Cemetery, Brookline. 

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