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Thomas N. Donegan
July 14, 2021


Tom Donegan of Provincetown, a member of the Select Board for six years in the 2010s — three of those as chair — passed from this life on July 14 in Manhattan, surrounded by love, his husband Mark Weinress and dear friends. Tom was 61 years old.

The cause of death was leptomeningeal disease brought on by esophageal cancer.

Tom moved to Provincetown in 2009 after retiring from AOL. Within quickly rolled up his sleeves and became of service, as was his way his entire life. Tom served on the town Finance Committee, becoming its chairman, from 2012 to 2013.

In 2013, he won election to what was then called the Board of Selectmen and was chairman from 2014 to 2016. He easily won reelection to the board in 2016, His chief goals were improving the use of town resources, with a special focus on finding solutions to the affordable housing crisis. Tom also served on the board of the Provincetown Year-Round Rental Housing Trust and the board of the Cape Light Compact. His work there was important to him given his strong belief in protecting the environment. As an action guy, he always wanted to put his beliefs into real work.

In December 2018, Tom left his position on both boards to help support his recently widowed mother- in-law in North Carolina. He remained an active member on the board of the Fine Arts Work Center, serving for a time as treasurer, until his death. It was an organization that was very important to him, and he enjoyed meeting and discussing their work with FAWC’s fellows.

Thomas Neal Donegan was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 21, 1960. A year later, his brother Ned was born. (Ned survives him.) The family lived in Manhattan Beach, CA, and the San Francisco Bay area, divided by a stint in Marshfield, MA, while Tom was in elementary school.

His father, Jim, was a pilot for Trans World Airlines. His mother, Glorian Gainey, a South Carolina native, was a homemaker and later a real estate agent. The Donegan family used their T.W.A. perquisite to journey all over the world, imbuing Tom with a lifelong passion for travel, flying, and even airports.

Tom attended the Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA, after which he enrolled at the George Washington University in Washington, DC., where he majored in political science. Tom was the ad manager of The GW Hatchet student newspaper and president of the Sigma Chi fraternity chapter, which he steered toward community service. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1983.

But the most important thing that happened to him at GW was meeting Mark and commencing a lifetime of 38 years together, They were wed on July 27th, 2015, a month after the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, at Saint Mary's church in Provincetown MA.

A year after graduation — both Tom and Mark began a spiritual program of recovery from alcohol and drugs. They have cherished their continuous sobriety from that date and consider it, along with their 38-year partnership, as the best thing they’ve ever done.

The couple lived first in the District of Columbia, before moving in 1999 to Arlington, VA. It was there in 2001 that they welcomed for the year, 16-year-old exchange student, Svenja Jaeger from Germany, who considers Tom and Mark her “American dads.” Their close relationship is one of the most important in their lives. And they now get to be the American granddads.

Tom joined the Baltimore office of the W. B. Doner & Company advertising agency in 1984, rising to the position of account executive. From there, he joined Ullico (Union Labor Life Insurance Company) in Washington DC, doing in-house marketing.

During this time, in August of 1990, Tom and Mark were attacked and injured in an anti-gay hate crime. Theirs was the first successful case first tried under DC’s new hate crimes law. As a result of the experience Tom became involved in the newly formed grassroots group GLOV, Gay Men and Lesbians Opposing Violence. The group provided community safety education and advocated for accountability from the police and media in recognizing and addressing anti-LGBTQ violence. Tom soon became GLOV’s co-chair and was known as the “activist in the suit,” since he rarely had time to change out of his daytime business attire before being interviewed by the press, attending public meetings and the occasional on TV news appearance.

After his service with GLOV, and upon his move to VA, Tom became president of Crisis Link, a Virginia-based 24/7 Crisis & Suicide Prevention Hotline

Like more than 80% of Americans, Tom had never been online as of 1995. However, he took a leap and joined a young company called America Online, where he served as VP of membership marketing. Tom managed a team integral to building total members to over 37 million. He developed many groundbreaking programs for multiple sales channels and lead integration for AOL Time Warner. When he left the company in 2008, he was one of its longest serving employees.

After following his dream of retiring and moving to Provincetown.
Tom relished being on the water. He bought a catboat in Provincetown and enjoyed sailing all summer long, even competing in races. Six years ago, Mark and Tom decided to make Manhattan their second home.

Tom was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. Although the disease was advanced, he decided he would lean even harder into his already upbeat attitude and continue to enjoy his life gratefully. Until the last few months, treatments were very successful and he continued his active life, filled with sailing, cooking, time with friends, and travel.

While on a trip to London, Tom spotted a plaque that perfectly summed up his gratitude, his faith, and his belief that a higher power existed for all. He bought two of them and placed one each in his Provincetown and New York homes. The saying became his motto.

"Bidden or not bidden, God is present.”

Services for Tom will take place at Saint Mary of the Harbor Church in Provincetown on Thursday, July 22 at 11:00 am, followed by a reception. A private burial will take place at Provincetown Cemetery.

Charitable contributions in Tom's memory may be made to the Carrie A. Seaman Animal Shelter (CASAS), Outer Cape Health Services, the Fine Arts Work Center, or the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod.

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