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Bidding farewell to a chief

NICOLE FORMOSA
Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkKent Donahue took center stage at the Dillon Amphitheatre Tuesday afternoon as friends and family said goodbye and celebrated his life.
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DILLON – Hundreds of police officers joined Kent Donahue’s family and friends at the Dillon Amphitheatre Tuesday afternoon and shared memories of the late Silverthorne chief of police, who died of an apparent heart attack on May 29 in Denver.He was 49.Police officers and sheriff’s deputies from departments all over the state – many of whom had worked beside Donahue in one capacity or another throughout his 28-year career in law enforcement – filled a large section of the outdoor amphitheater, which sits against the backdrop of Dillon Reservoir.Donahue’s close family and friends tearfully remembered him as a large man with a huge heart and a welcoming smile, who always put others first.

“My father showed compassion to others, he loved people,” said Donahue’s son, Sgt. Jim Donahue with the Frisco Police Department. “He loved his family, his friends. He loved his cops.”Donahue began his career in law enforcement in 1977 at the Greeley Police Department, where he remained until his retirement in 2004. Later that year, he accepted the chief of police position in Silverthorne.Capt. Jack Statler with the Greeley Police Department, Donahue’s longtime friend and co-worker, recalled some of Donahue’s accolades as he rose through the ranks to sergeant, then to lieutenant and eventually to captain in Greeley.He was awarded officer of the year honors in 1984 and also won a medal of valor, along with receiving various other written commendations.

Statler also remembered how Donahue liked to spend his free time collecting bears and pocketwatches, riding his motorcycle and shooting at the firing range.Most of all, Donahue believed that family came first.”Kent always told us he was living his dream,” Statler said. “What a beautiful place to be chief of police, to live with (his wife) Jaime. It couldn’t be better.”He was devoted to his wife, Jaime, his daughter, Katie, and especially doted on his young grandson Kellon, the son of Jim and his wife, Cindy.

“The last time I talked to Kent on the phone, he was trying to teach Kellon how to take a sip of water and say ‘AAH,'” said Donahue’s brother, Kevin.The solemn mood was broken up with some humor, particularly as Kevin reflected on his childhood with Kent as a big brother.”Kent paid me to eat bugs,” Kevin said, as he recalled the various methods Kent used to torment him as a child.Kevin spoke of a happy childhood growing up in the 1960s, and said his older brother was always there to protect him, despite the teasing.

“I ask that you remember Kent well,” Kevin said. “I’m proud to say, ‘I’m Kent’s brother.’ We’re all better people for having known him.”Donahue was born to Ralph and Carol Donahue in Lakewood on May 8, 1956. He was the eldest of three children, including Kevin and their little sister Carla, who also spoke briefly at the service.In 1976, he married his high school sweetheart, Jaime Frommer, whom he met on the first day of school at Lakewood High School.Together, they raised two children, Jim, of Silverthorne, and Katie, who lives in Greeley.

Tuesday’s two-hour service closed with a flag ceremony, in which Donahue’s parents were presented with an American flag and, finally, a last call of Donahue’s Silverthorne Police Department dispatch identification.”Silverthorne One … Silverthorne One … Silverthorne One off duty. End of watch. 14:40.”Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at nformosa@summitdaily.com.


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