Peter Donohue, a Sag Harbor resident who during his long career in newspapers oversaw the circulation department of USA Today, died Thursday from complications of throat and neck cancer.
He was 68 and succumbed at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.
Donohue began his career at the New York Daily News in the early 1970s before moving to USA Today, where he worked in circulation from six months before the paper’s launch in 1982 until his retirement in 2008. He was credited with starting an initiative to have the daily paper delivered to hotel rooms in New York City, according to his wife, Lynn Daly Donohue.
“He loved his job at USA Today. He was very passionate about it,” she said. “He was always trying to figure out a new way to keep the paper going.”
The couple met through a mutual friend in 1995 and bonded because they were both recently divorced and had a set of twins. His sons, Peter and Brendan, both of Brooklyn, followed their father’s footsteps in the media business with careers in television production.
Born in Flushing, Queens, Donohue attended Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary in Elmhurst, Queens, and later received an undergraduate business degree from Iona College and a master’s from Fordham University. He loved crossword puzzles and would attempt to solve the Newsday puzzle every day and The New York Times puzzle on Sunday.
He was also a devout Catholic and member of St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church in Sag Harbor, as well as an avid golfer.
He loved evening visits to Foster Memorial Beach in Sag Harbor, known by locals as Long Beach, and enjoyed taking international cruises such as a trip to the Panama Canal aboard the Queen Elizabeth, his wife said.
“He was an optimist, but a very quiet man,” Lynn Donohue said. “It was hard to get him to open up, but he was always smiling. He exhibited sweetness. Anybody who met him liked him.”
His late father, Peter J. Donohue, and late brother, Michael T. Donohue Sr., had careers at the New York Daily News. Peter Donohue Jr. later paved the way for the third generation to work in newspapers when in 2001 he suggested his nephew Michael T. Donohue Jr. get a job in the circulation department at Newsday. Michael T. Donohue Jr. later worked his way up to become the company’s director of transportation.
“We’re a newspaper family,” said Michael T. Donohue Jr., of Bayside, Queens. “Growing up as kid, it was always what I wanted to do . . . best move I ever made.”
He called him a “super uncle” and said the older man was there to take him to New York Islanders games when his father, Michael T. Donohue Sr., was diagnosed with jaw and mouth cancer in 1990.
Lynn Donohue said her husband’s health quickly deteriorated after he was diagnosed Oct. 12.
“He was fine until Christmas,” she said. “His last chemo treatment took so much out of him.”
Other survivors include a stepdaughter, Jocelyn Daly Osborn of Wainscott; a stepson, Sean Daly of Hampton Bays; a granddaughter; and a step-granddaughter.
A wake was scheduled Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Brockett Funeral Home, 203 Hampton Rd. in Southampton. A funeral Mass is Monday at 11 a.m. in St. Andrew’s.
Cremation will follow.