Charles J. Donato Sr.

Charles J. Donato Sr.

Charles J. Donato Sr., raised on a Slingerlands farm by Italian immigrants, knew the value of hard work — and of generosity.

“He was an easy-going guy, very mellow — and hardworking,” said his daughter, Bernadine Donato. “He was always helping other people.”

Formerly of Haines City, Florida, Mr. Donato died on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady. He was 94.

Born on Oct. 30, 1923 in Slingerlands, Mr. Donato was the son of the late Dominick and Lucy (née Ravida) Donato. His parents came from Sicily in 1913 and settled on a farm on Font Grove Road, said Ms. Donato. His father was a farmer and his mother was a homemaker, raising seven children. “He was in the middle,” said Ms. Donato of her father.

Dominick Donato died young, in 1933, leaving his widow to manage the farm and raise their children. Charlie Donato attended Voorheesville schools through the 10th grade, leaving school to help his family, said Ms. Donato.

“Charlie served his country honorably and faithfully in the United States Navy during World War II,” his family wrote in a tribute. He served as a boatswain’s mate on the USS Yosemite, said Ms. Donato. She recorded several stories about his time in the service for an oral history she made for the family. “He would let the prisoners out of their cells and they would play cards together,” she said, recalling one such story.

Mr. Donato met the woman who would become his wife, Edwardine Grainer, from Rensselaer, at a roller rink, said Ms. Donato. They had six children, raising them on eight acres near his parents’ farm on Font Grove Road. Their marriage lasted 54 years, ending only with her death.

Mr. Donato was a mechanic. “He worked on trucks and big rigs,” said his daughter. “He also worked for construction companies. He worked until his 70s.”

Mr. Donato’s passion was woodworking. “He could tear down a house and put it back together,” said Ms. Donato. “When he was in his 90s, he would make reindeer ornaments, boxes, and wagons for his grandchildren.”

As a father, Mr. Donato was devoted to his six children and he instilled in them a strong work ethic. “He told us, if you want something in life, you have to go out and work for it,” recalled his daughter.

She added, “He wouldn’t yell a lot or raise his hand toward us.”

Mr. Donato bought old cars and refurbished them for his children. “When I was a teenager, he bought a 1961 Ford for $10 and fixed it up for me,” said Ms. Donato.

After his first wife died, Mr. Donato married Mary T. Barrington-Quackenbush. Mary and her husband, George, also had six children who were friends with the Donatos growing up. “After her husband passed away, Dad would help Mary with chores. Next thing you know, they got together,” said Mrs. Donato. They were happily married for 17 years, until his death.

Ms. Donato concluded, “My Dad was always there to help other people … He had long and good life.”


Charles J. Donato Sr. is survived by his wife of 17 years, Mary T. (Barrington-Quackenbush) Donato; by his children: Edward Donato and his wife, Breanna, Edwardine Parshall and her husband, Earl, Bernardine Donato, Charles Donato Jr. and his wife, Scherry; and by his stepchildren: Kathleen (William) Woschanko and her husband, William, Theresa Stein and her husband, Thomas, Patricia Tersigni and her husband, Joseph, Mary Boucher and her husband, Thomas, Thomas Quackenbush, and Ann Smith and her husband, James.

He is also survived by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, one great-great-granddaughter, and several nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

His parents died before him, as did his first wife Edwardine (née Grainer) Donato; his son Richard Donato; his daughter Charline Donato; and six siblings.

Visiting hours will be from 5 pm to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 21, at New Comer Cremations & Funerals at 343 New Karner Road in Colonie.  A funeral service will be held at 6:30 at the funeral home.  Burial will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 22, at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands.

Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of one’s choice.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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