Alton Stewart Donnelly

Alton Stewart Donnelly

Birth
Utah, USA
Death 2 Jan 2007 (aged 86)
Burial Vestal, Broome County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 84464646 · View Source
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Alton Stewart Donnelly of Binghamton was born in Springville, Utah, on November 30, 1920. He grew up in Wyoming where his father worked as a miner and superintendent in the coal mines. Alton attended school in Kemerer, Wyoming, then spent one year at Brigham Young University and his sophomore year at the University of Wyoming, studying geology. When World War II broke out, he worked in the coal mines for a year to put his brother Grant through his second year of college so that they both could join the US Navy to become fighter pilots. He served on the USS Nehenta Bay aircraft carrier in the South Pacific until he was discharged in 1946. His parents had moved to Oakland, California, so he attended the University of California at Berkeley, completing a BS degree in business in 1949. He couldn't find a job, and still eligible for further education under the GI Bill, he entered graduate school. Those who knew him well recognized that he was truly a scholar. The cold war with Russia had begun, and he had always been interested in Russian culture, so he attended the Army intensive Russian language school for one year. The Korean War began, and as a member of the active reserve, he was recalled to duty. He served from 1950 to 1953, flying daily over Korea. During his Navy career, he made at least 150 carrier landings. On his discharge in 1953, he returned to the University of California at Berkeley where he met his future wife, Kathleen Riley, also a graduate student in history and a fellow teaching assistant. In 1957 a cultural exchange treaty with Russia was signed, and Alton was one of thirty Americans chosen to study in Russia for a year. He married Kathleen on July 11, 1958, expecting that both would go to Russia, but that was not permitted. He went alone to Leningrad University for a year. By the summer of 1959 he was fluent in the language, and was asked to be a guide at the American Exhibition in Moscow. Kay was also able to be employed there. They returned to Berkeley in 1959 where he received a PhD in Russian History in 1960. He taught at Northern Illinois University, Fairfield College in Iowa, and in 1966 came to the State University of New York at Binghamton. He taught there until his official retirement as professor emeritus in 1985, but continued to teach half years until 1991. Professor Donnelly wrote, translated, and edited a number of books and articles. For his book "The Conquest of Bashkiria" on Russian eastward expansion, he was awarded a gold medal and honorary membership in the Academy of Science of Baskortostan. He loved teaching and was an inspired and inspiring teacher; many students took every course he offered. He remained in the Navy Reserve for twenty years, retiring with the rank of captain. While in Binghamton, he translated Russian articles for Navy Intelligence. He was a fifth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was an active Mormon all his life, holding many positions including that of bishop of the Binghamton Ward from 1984 to 1988. He and his wife served as missionaries in Russia, 1991-1993, in the same city he lived in during 1958-1959, present-day St. Petersburg. His faith was strong and he knew upon his death where he was going. He was a past member of the history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, of many scholarly organizations, Kiwanis, and a current member of the Military Officers of America. His later years were marred by illness. He was cared for at home for the last eighteen months by wonderful aides from the Family and Children's Society, especially Helen and Flavia. He never complained nor made demands, and was always courteous and grateful to those who helped him. He died at Lourdes Hospital on January 2 and is survived by his wife Kathleen, his sister Maxine Hilton Nelson, and beloved nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 305 Murray Hill Road, Vestal, Saturday at 11 a.m. Bishop Edmund Morreall will officiate. Burial will be in Vestal Hills Memorial Park. The family will receive friends at the J.F. Rice Funeral Home, Inc., 150 Main St., Johnson City, Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, those wishing may make memorial contributions to CHOW, 3 Otsiningo St., Binghamton, N.Y. 13903, in Alton Stewart Donnelly's memory.


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  • Created by: Mark Kunzman
  • Added: 4 Feb 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 84464646
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Alton Stewart Donnelly (30 Nov 1920–2 Jan 2007), Find a Grave Memorial no. 84464646, citing Vestal Hills Memorial Park, Vestal, Broome County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Mark Kunzman (contributor 47526718) .