By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, December 22, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Rich Beauchesne photo]
The new lifeguard tower being constructed as part of the $18 million redevelopment project at Hampton Beach will be named after Jimmy Donahue, the current chief of the Beach Patrol.
Seacoast Park's Supervisor Brian Warburton made the announcement last week during a surprise party at the Ashworth by the Sea hotel in honor of Donahue, who just wrapped up his 50th season at the beach this September.
"It's just amazing," said Donahue. "I still can't believe they are going to name the tower after me. I'm not even retired yet."
Warburton said he wanted to do something "special" to mark Donahue's 50th anniversary on the job, and naming the tower after him fit the bill.
"I broached management with it, and they thought it was great idea," Warburton said. "Jimmy has done a lot for Hampton Beach. He is our five-star at our five-star beach."
Donahue began his career as a Hampton Beach lifeguard at the age of 16 during the summer of 1960. He worked as a guard during summer breaks from high school, Boston University, and also when he taught physical education and science at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill, Mass.
He became head of lifeguards in 1973, and last summer marked his 34th year in that position overseeing 40-plus guards.
Warburton said over the years Donahue has been credited with making over 500 rescues and has reunited thousands of lost children with their parents.
Warburton said Donahue has mentored thousands of young men and women throughout his teaching and lifeguard careers.
"He's one of the reasons why we have one of the best lifeguard squads in the country," Warburton said.
Donahue said he has always been an athlete. He played hockey and football in high school, as well as in college where he garnered the nickname "Tiger" Donahue. He said lifeguarding was the perfect job for him.
"It's a dream job," Donahue said, when asked why a man his age keeps coming back to something that most folks think of as a college kid's job.
Donahue, who recently turned 65, said he not ready to retire just yet.
"I figure I got about five more years," he said. "When I do give it up, I'm going to miss it though. I grew up on the beach."