Dick Donahue, retired features editor at Publishers Weekly, died on July 5 at his assisted living residence, the Beth Abraham Center in the Bronx. He was 79.
Donahue was born in Boston and attended Boston Latin School and Boston University before moving to the midwest, where he worked in bookstores in Kansas City and Chicago and served as a sales rep for Penguin. He moved to New York City to join his partner, and later husband, Skip Skwarek, a children's book editor and publisher.
He joined Publishers Weekly in 1989, working in the children's department, and moved to producing feature stories, particularly PW's columns on LGBTQ publishing and round-ups of movie tie-in titles. He also assisted with "Behind the Bestsellers" and conducted dozens of author interviews. He retired from PW in 2014.
Aside from books, Donahue was most passionate about theater and song. His flair for drama was put to great effect in theater productions, light opera, and as a member of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus.
Bridget Kinsella, publicist at Stanford University Press, was a close friend. She saw him earlier this year and said that he was still quick to laugh, describing Donahue as "all heart." George Slowik, president and publisher of PWxyz, recalled: "Dick was an iconoclast, possessed of great flair, flourish, and friendship, who seemed to know everybody."
Don Weise, former publisher of Alyson Books and current publisher and founder of Querelle Press, offered this reflection: "Dick was one of the few, maybe the only, people I know who seemed to live his life in that spirited state the rest of us can only reach via alcohol. He was practically ebullient whenever we would go out together. It didn't matter where, either; he was still himself whether we were out at a party or at a dull reading. Maybe especially at a dull reading, because he loved to crack wise about dull and pretentious people. It's one of the things I loved most about him and will miss most."
Donahue has no known surviving family members, but is remembered fondly as a cherished member of the PW family.