August 1948 - September 2019
Local identity Thomas John Naughton Donohue, known to everyone as Joe, was born in a little house behind the Power Board building in Helensville. When Joe’s father won a ballot farm at South Head the family, including Joe, his sister Helen and their parents Paddy and Heather, moved there to a dairy farm. At the funeral Helen recalled an amazing childhood, with plenty of parties, dances, dress-up balls and card nights in community-spirited South Head. Summers were spent swimming in Lake Ototoa (now called Rototoa) and water skiing at Honeymoon Bay.
When he was 10 Joe began playing badminton and he and Helen became a formidable mixed doubles combination. Helen remembered that every week Bully and Edna Menzies would pile all the kids into their car and take them to play at Kumeu. Joe was a very good sportsman, also excelling at snooker, cricket and golf. At Waioneke school Joe and Helen were lucky to have Mr and Mrs Shanks as their teachers. On leaving school he moved to Auckland, then returned to his birthplace.
In 1975 he met Kath and her sons and together they had daughter Kim. He later married Marlene and was stepfather to her 9 children. His stepson spoke at the funeral, remembering him fondly as a good stepfather. He has two grandchildren, Alex and Aria.
Joe was generous and a hard worker, but not good with money. Helen said “In those days Mother bought him a fish and chip shop in Helensville and a boat, which was never used as he didn’t have his skipper’s licence. The mind boggles to think of Joe in charge of a fishing boat. He then bought a farm in Kaukapakapa – the less said about that, the better.”
Stories told at Joe’s funeral included that, as a curious child he would hop into the backseat of cars in the carpark and, on at least one occasion, had been driven to Orewa before he woke up and made his presence known. Helen remembered the numerous occasions she and Joe would hide calves in the back paddock in the hope that they wouldn’t be found and taken to the works in the morning. “You can just imagine the war that occurred when the truck arrived,” she said. “I wish there had been no smacking law in those days.”
Helen also noted “How either of us survived our teenage years was a miracle, as Joe’s driving left a lot to be desired.” This was borne out by stories from Joe’s long-time friend and co-conspirator Ted Phillips and others, like the time, worse for wear, he drove a VW up a tree, and the time he parked his car on a bowling green. Ted was very good to him when he became incapacitated and had to go into care. Locals will remember seeing Joe about town on his mobility scooter. Helen noted that for the past few years, as a result of not managing his diabetes, he lived in Craigweil House and that, because of his deteriorating health, his death was a happy release for him.