In Memoriam: Orville Wright Donnelly

Orville Wright Donnelly, CCAS MA ’51, SMHS MD ’57, passed away on Mar. 28 in Kennett Square, PA.

Born in Trenton, NJ on Feb. 28, 1923, he was the son of Catherine Wright and Frederick S. Donnelly, owner of Donnelly & Sons, a men’s clothing store in Trenton. He was the grandson of Frederick William Donnelly, Mayor of Trenton from 1911-1932.

Donnelly graduated high school in 1940 from McDonogh School, and then from Swarthmore College in 1944. He served as an officer in the US Navy from 1944-1946. After his service, he taught graduate biology at Williams College, and for one summer taught biology at Bowdoin College and Woods Hole.

From 1949-1953, Donnelly taught at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC,  where he was a biology/chemistry teacher and assistant to the headmaster. Donnelly obtained a master’s in zoology in 1951 from GW and then enrolled in GW’s medical school. He graduated in 1957 and went on to work at Group Health Association.

Donnelly started his own internal medicine practice with Dr. Harold Sadin and Dr. Stan Talpers in 1961. The practice of Donnelly, Sadin and Talpers then invited Dr. Robert Wilkinson to join, becoming the first practice in downtown Washington, DC to invite an African American physician to become a partner.

Donnelly was on the clinical faculty at GW’s school of medicine, and volunteered many hours teaching and working with the admissions department. Donnelly also volunteered as vice president and field trip chairman of the Audubon Society in Hilton Head, SC. During his retirement in Kendal Crosslands, PA, Donnelly donated his time to serve on many committees.

Donnelly is pre-deceased by his ex-wife, Elizabeth Ann Gawthrop of Wilmington, DE. He is survived by two daughters, Liza Donnelly of New York, Helen Olsen of Washington State; two step-daughters and three grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations be made to The American Friends Service Committee. A memorial meeting will be held at Kendal Crosslands Communities, Kennett Square, PA 19348 on May 17 at 2:00pm.


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