Honor for Lifeguard Chief

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Bill Would Name Tower After Donahue, Who has Served for 52 Years, So Far

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, January 6, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
The new lifeguard tower at Hampton Beach will be named in honor of Chief Jimmy Donahue of the N.H. Department of Resources Beach Patrol, if a bill is passed by the NH state Legislature.
[Rich Beauchesne photo]

HAMPTON -- Jimmy Donahue has received many commendations and accolades for his 50-plus years patrolling Hampton Beach as the chief of lifeguards.

But state Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, wants to ensure the 67-year-old is remembered long after he hangs up his orange suit.

Stiles filed a bill recently to name after Donahue the new lifeguard tower recently installed as part of a multimillion-dollar redevelopment project at Hampton Beach.

Though it was announced in 2009 that the tower would be named after Donahue, Stiles said, it never came to fruition.

"The state parks wanted to do it, but nothing had officially happened," Stiles said. "I thought to make sure it got done, I'd put in a bill to make it happen."

Stiles said Donahue deserves the honor for his longtime service.

"He deserves some sort of recognition and he waited so long to get a new facility for his guards," she said.

Former Seacoast Parks Supervisor Brian Warburton proposed the idea in 2009 because he wanted to do something "special" to mark Donahue's 50th year on the job.

"Jimmy has done a lot for Hampton Beach," Warburton said. "He is our five-star at our five-star beach."

Warburton requested Stiles file the bill.

"For the last 52 summers, he has given his life to millions of people," Warburton said. "Not just saving lives but helping people enjoy their recreation in a safe environment."

Donahue began his career as a Hampton Beach lifeguard at the age of 16 in 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 36th year in that position; he oversees 40-plus guards. Over the years Donahue has been credited with making more than 500 rescues and has reunited thousands of lost children with their parents.

But more importantly, Warburton said, Donahue has been a mentor.

"He's one of the reasons why we have one of the best lifeguard squads in the country," Warburton said.

Just recently the New Hampshire House and Senate gave him a proclamation, marking his 50-plus years of service.

At the time, Donahue said he was surprised by the hoopla.

Donahue also said he's not ready to retire. "I'm just having a good time and I don't plan on hanging it up quite yet," Donahue said. "I love this job."

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