Chuck Donnell

18 July 2017
Chuck Donnell ’54
Chuck Donnell ’54

Chuck Donnell, age 85 and class of 1954, died on July 14th after a valiant battle with cancer. Chuck was a Carleton Trustee from 1981–1985 and worked in various capacities in the Development Office between 1990 and 2010, creating Carleton’s very successful 50th Reunion Program. He loved to build and renew connections between people and the college and was deeply committed to keeping it affordable for many.

Chuck was genuinely interested in people and his care for them was evident in the attention he gave to each person he met. He was legendary for his infectious laughter, bad jokes, and eagerness to bet cups of coffee, bets he would invariably win. Chuck’s quest, along with Bardwell Smith, to attend a game in each major league ballpark in the country was just one short (the new Miami stadium), though the two friends recognized that the “goal post” was ever-moving. A more complete obituary is attached.

There will be a celebration of Chuck’s life on Saturday, October 21 at 1:30 pm in Skinner Chapel. It will be followed by a reception in the Chapel narthex.

Please keep Chuck’s wife, Zoe ’55, and all of Chuck’s family, friends, and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers.

Memorial Service

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  • 2017-07-18 16:06:31
    Noboru Tomonari

    Chuck was a wonderful person who has helped my wife Yuki and I greatly when I arrived to teach at Carleton in 2001. We were friends with Chuck's daughter Zoe Stockdale (who went to Kenyon) when I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago and that is how we met. My wife and I still remember fondly that Chuck kindly accompanied us when we purchased our first car ever (which was a Honda Civic) at a dealer in Burnsville and Chuck negotiated over the price for us. He was among the first group of individuals that I encountered back then who embodied the spirit of this college. My deepest condolences to his wife Zoe and his family; he will be solely missed.

  • 2017-07-18 17:19:30
    Al Montero, POSC

    Chuck and Zoe traveled with me on my first alumni trip to Cuba. Their energy and joy were infectious and I just loved listening to Chuck's stories about Carleton over the years. On occasion, I would run into him on one of his many visits to the campus. He was always smiling. I cannot imagine a more caring and lovely ambassador for Carleton among the many decades of alums I have had the honor and joy to meet. I never thought of Chuck as a rep for his class (1954), but as the all-20th century rep for Carleton. His passing is a major loss for our community. My sincerest condolences to Zoe and the family.

  • 2017-07-19 10:55:56
    Harry Williams, Laird Bell Professor of History

    Chuck and Zoe hosted me at their Connecticut home about 20 years ago. If memory serves, it was a Sunday brunch gathering of the Carleton Club where I talked about my research on George Schuyler, the black conservative intellectual gadfly prominent from the Great Depression through the early 1960s. Schuyler remains a political oddity, but Chuck, Zoe, and their guests demonstrated generous curiosity as I strove to make sense of his life. I remain grateful for the audience they arranged to test my ideas, and for their warm greetings during the succeeding years.

  • 2017-07-19 14:54:49
    Jennifer Edwins

    It was always a day brightener when Chuck would come to the library! His enthusiasm for Carleton and all of us connected with Carleton was always apparent. When he worked at Carleton, he was interested in getting to know members of the community, and in retirement, he sustained those relationships with frequent visits to his many friends throughout the campus. My thoughts are with Zoe and his family during the days ahead.

  • 2017-07-31 12:50:43
    Bardwell Smith

    Charlotte and I have been blessed by years of friendship with Chuck and Zoe Donnell, as have so many others at Carleton and beyond. It is painful to imagine a world without this lovely, engaging man who brightened the lives of all who knew him. Everyone has their own experience of Chuck’s interest in them, his energy, his infectious spirit, and clearly his dedication to this institution. The testimonies to these and other qualities are legion. In our own case, Chuck and Zoe, for part of the time he worked in College Development, lived for six years in the apartment attached to our house near the College and thus were woven into the lives of our family. In return, we were often houseguests at their home in Westport, CT.

    On one fine day beyond recall, as he and I were watching the Minnesota Twins on TV, we hatched a plot to see a baseball game in each of the 30 Major League stadiums. No clear plan of how long that might take, it turned out to be over a three-year period, unlike two younger guys that first summer who did it in one season and ended up growing weary of each other—too much, too fast. Old guys need time to savor a feast. In any case, as you can imagine, Chuck did all the planning and was our driver from one park to another. My assignment was to read out loud from a few baseball classics to feed our spirits along the way—after chanting "On the Road Again” as we started off each morning. Some of the “classics” we sampled were by noted baseball writers such as Roger Angell, George Will, and Bartlett Giamatti, Italian Renaissance scholar and Past President of Yale as well as Commissioner of Major League Baseball (for too short a period of time). Our favorite of Giamatti’s was Take Time for Paradise. Clearly, its author knew and loved the game as few others. As I read this short book to Chuck while he drove us from Chicago to St. Louis, our insights were raised as by no other.

    As we triangulated the country, per Chuck’s skillful scheduling, we became friends in new ways. It was all to the good. The experiences were rich—different baseball food, different fans. The stadiums were not all the same. The main point is that we shared life together in new ways. Chuck was a delight to be with, and I guess he felt the same about me. It was as if we had decided to take a trip down the Mississippi, with a few plans but no program as to how we should experience day after day. We thought we knew each other pretty well before this adventure, but we discovered there was lots more to discover. All in all, this was a pure joy, and there was so much one could never have anticipated.

    By the way, we left one stadium unvisited—the new stadium of the Florida Marlins, even though we had seen a game in their original stadium. Our reasoning for leaving one stadium unvisited is that in life as a whole, one never completes everything. Is that rationalization, or perhaps the better part, the more modest part of wisdom? And, by the way, Zoe and Charlotte did see a few games with us. I think they were in Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium. and maybe Montreal. Without Chuck to correct me I can’t be sure. Was there a bit of so-called karma in the fact that long before we had met each other we had been boyhood fans of the Chicago Cubs. More to the point, we lived to see the Cubs finally win the World Series again, after more than a century.

    Knowing how deeply this man will be missed by so many, I feel privileged to have known him so well. Again, Charlotte and I were blessed by our years of friendship with Chuck, Zoe, and their family, and we know to some degree how much he will be missed by them especially. And Carleton’s loss is outweighed only by how much Carleton has been and will continue to be blessed by the lives of them both.

  • 2017-08-06 15:57:02
    Eric Hillemann

    Chuck and Zoe have been such dear, dear friends, and as much as any couple I've ever known, my model and ideal for what a marriage can be. It's hard to imagine a more effective ambassador for Carleton than Chuck, and I've always admired his seemingly inexhaustible good spirits and bonhomie. I will always be grateful for having known him. So glad in particular that Chuck and Zoe and I were shipmates on our memorable 2006 Carleton alumni adventure in Antarctica - best people I can imagine to travel to the ends of the earth with!