Silverthorne mourns loss of police chief |

Silverthorne mourns loss of police chief

summit daily news

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

SILVERTHORNE ” Kent Donahue, chief of police for the town of Silverthorne, died in Denver Sunday after returning from a trip to California. Donahue, a veteran law enforcement officer and devoted family man, died of an apparent heart attack, according to town manager Kevin Batchelder.

Donahue was 49.

Donahue is survived by his wife, Jaime, of Silverthorne; his son, Jim, a sergeant with the Frisco Police Department; Jim’s wife, Cindy; his son, Kellon, of Silverthorne; his daughter, Katie, of Greeley, and parents, Ralph and Carol Donahue, of Lakewood.

“Chief Donahue embodied the finest qualities of a chief of police,” Batchelder said. “Since the moment he arrived in Silverthorne, Kent has tackled every issue in front of him making tremendous progress in areas where we needed help.

“Everyone liked him immediately ” from his peers to his staff to the community at large. Kent was a big guy with the biggest of hearts. We are deeply saddened by this huge loss to our community, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Donahue joined the Silverthorne Police Department in August 2004. In his nine months with the department, he established himself as an outstanding leader, manager and community member.

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Sheriff John Minor worked with Donahue’s son, Jim, and knew Donahue prior to him becoming police chief.

“He was a good man. He was funny, compassionate, kind,” Minor said. “We used to seek each other’s counsel on different issues. He became my friend.”

Minor said Donahue was very proud of his son, grandson and the rest of his family.

“After his grandson was born, he used to crack me up. He was this giant man with this little tiny baby. He was 6-foot-7 with his tiny grandson in his arms,” Minor said.

During his tenure with the Silverthorne Police Department, he swore in six officers, promoted one sergeant and one detective, and helped update the police department’s mission, vision and values statements.

He emphasized the department’s strong commitment to community policing and participated in ongoing programs, such as the Adopt an Angel and Safe Summer Kickoff programs.

Most recently, Donahue attended the DARE graduation for the fifth graders at Silverthorne Elementary to meet the parents and children.

He also participated in the Special Olympics torch event, riding his bicycle from the summit of Vail Pass to Frisco in honor of the Special Olympics athletes.

Donahue was a father figure to many of the new officers in Silverthorne, always available to provide leadership, guidance and direction to his troops. He was instrumental in leading collective efforts in Summit County to coordinate emergency response actions and define inter-jurisdictional protocols among county agencies.

“He was a great chief to have next door,” Dillon Police Chief John Mackey. “He was a true professional. As a person, he was a gentle giant and a true friend.”

Prior to joining the Silverthorne Police Department, Donahue worked with the Greeley Police Department for 27 years as patrol shift commander, investigations commander, SWAT team commander, project director of the Weld County task force, and, most recently, as director of the Weld County Regional Communication Center.

Donahue was a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., held a bachelor’s degree in technical education from Colorado State University, and earned a master’s degree in organization management from the University of Phoenix. He was working to complete a second master’s degree in criminal justice executive leadership from the University of Colorado in Denver.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Gary Cline, chief of Dillon’s police department, also died suddenly last July at the age of 56.

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