July 31, 2021 -- from the Donovan Family

Dear Rod 'N' Reel family,

With heavy hearts we have sad news to share. Our owner, Mr. Gerald W. Donovan peacefully passed away at his home on Saturday July 31st. Mr. Donovan had his loving wife Mary, daughter Mary Lanham, and sons Wesley and Ryan along with their families, his siblings and many of his grandchildren by his side.
Gerald W. Donovan
Mr. Donovan gave so much to our community, where he set forth his vision for The Rod 'N' Reel Resort, and the family is committed to making his dreams a reality. We are so proud of his life's work. He felt immense gratitude to those who helped him fulfill his dreams. He loved coming to work every day and as he often said "If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life."  He truly loved what he did.

Mr. Donovan was a humble man who loved to serve. As a young man he enlisted in the US Marine Corps, served as the president of the North Beach Volunteer Fire Department, participated in Leadership Maryland, and was on the Maryland Tourism Board, among others.  One of his proudest accomplishments was starting the Cancer Gala / Celebration of Life along with his brother Freddie in memory of their father, Fred Donovan. Together, they raised more than $5 million dollars in over thirty years of events for the American Cancer Society.

As the mayor of Chesapeake Beach for twenty-eight years, many of his accomplishments are enjoyed by thousands of residents and guests every year from the Water Park, the Railway Trail, Bayfront Park, the town's annual fireworks display, and Veterans Memorial Park. After he retired from being mayor in 2008, he loved to drive around town looking at the new sidewalks, the decorative light poles with the hanging baskets full of flowers, all the while listening to Motown.  Mr. Donovan loved the Christmas Season, and was able to get upport from the town council to light the entire town with festive lights and displays.

He loved Chesapeake Beach more than anyone, knew its history better than anyone, and made his mission as mayor to put Chesapeake Beach back on the map, just as Otto Mears did in 1900.  He was a teacher of all things business and Chesapeake Beach to those around him, like his Grandfather Wesley Stinnett had been to him.

He taught us to love, work hard, and to serve. We are honored to continue his legacy and keep his traditions alive.

There will be a private family service and a Celebration of Life to be announced at a later date.  We request privacy during this time of mourning and that you please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

The Donovan Family


May 2012

Cancer Gala Celebration of Life -- “To everything, there is a season”

In 1982, my brother, Fred and I, wanted to honor our father’s memory by hosting a fun fundraiser to raise money for cancer research and treatment. We contacted the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Crusade Gala, was born. We later included in the name of this festive cause, Celebration of Life because that is what the Cancer Gala had become. For 30 years, the first Thursday in August was set aside as the evening of the Gala.

Last year we raised over $400,000. This was a true testament of the support from our families, co-chairs, friends, employees, generous donors, community supporters, an amazing group of volunteers and all of those in attendance. Since the inception, the annual Gala has brought in over $4 million dollars. In May 2011, The American Cancer Society recognized us with their Award of Excellence for Income Development for the South Atlantic Division. We are very proud of that distinction. It has been an honor to work with The American Cancer Society.

However, despite the accomplishments, we know that everything has its season.  We have made the decision not to continue the Cancer Gala Celebration of Life. We have semi-retired and are enjoying all of our extra time with our families. The thanks, praise, and recognition we have received over the years has been gratifying, but never necessary. 30 years ago we started the Gala in honor of our father and we feel our small contribution has added to the strides made in not only cancer research and treatment but also prevention and education.

Thank you to everyone who has ever participated in our efforts to raise money for The American Cancer Society.  We could not have done it without you! 

Thank you,  /s/ Gerald W. Donovan

For photos from recent Cancer Galas, click here

Welcome to Chesapeake Beach, the town built by Gerald Donovan
(Bay Weekly August 12, 2021 by Sandra Olivetti Martin)

For more information on cancer or to find out what you can do to help in the fight, please visit the American Cancer Society (leaving site).

American Cancer Society - Calvert County Unit

Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa

URL: http://www.rodnreelcancergala.org Copyright 2002-2021, Rod 'N' Reel, Inc.   
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