Honoring 50 Years of Service

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Seashell Stage's Lifeguard Tower to be Named For Jimmy Donahue

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, February 28, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
The new lifeguard tower at the Seashell Complex will be named for Chief Jimmy Donahue of the N.H. Department of Resources Beach Patrol. [Rich Beauchesne Photo]

HAMPTON -- The lifeguard tower in the new Seashell Complex, constructed as part of a multimillion-dollar redevelopment project at Hampton Beach, will officially be named after Jimmy Donahue.

The state Executive Council voted last week to give state parks authorization to name the tower after Donahue in honor of his 50-plus years patrolling Hampton Beach as the chief of lifeguards.

Donahue will celebrate his 53rd season on the job this summer. Sen. Nancy Stiles said she was thrilled about the news; she and all five Hampton state representatives sponsored a bill to name the tower after Donahue. The bill is currently in the Senate.

"The state parks said they were going to do it, but nothing had officially happened," said Stiles, on why they filed the bill.

Stiles said the commissioner of state parks informed her that it was his plan to make the request with the governor's council.

"I agreed to hold the bill, depending on the outcome," Stiles said. "I'm so pleased the Executive Council vote was unanimous and the lifeguard station will be named for Jimmy."

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.

"It's a great honor, befitting a great man," Warburton said. 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 and 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. "For Jim, it is not only what he has done, by exhibiting a timeless work ethic in true Donahue fashion, it is who he is as a person that stands out," Warburton said. "A true leader, an inspiration to all those who have worked with him through the years."

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