Saturday, March 12, 2022

John Harold Donovan, 70

Arkport, NY – John Harold Donovan, 70, of State Route 36, passed away on Thursday, March 10, 2022 at University of Rochester Thompson Health Center due to complications from Covid-19 and Pulmonary Fibrosis. He was born on January 6, 1952 in Wellsville, the son of the late William J. and Jean E. (O’Keefe) Donovan. On April 14, 1978 in Wellsville, he married his wife of 44 years, Ellen M. Hebblethwaite, who survives.

Jack attended school in Hornell, Belmont, and graduated from Friendship High School in 1970. As a boy and young man, he was very active in sports and enjoyed spending every moment he could with his family and friends. He was fortunate enough to have been given “The Handbook of How to Do Work the Right Way” from his Grandfather O’Keefe, the man he looked up to the most and who taught him many technical and life-skills. While in High School, he worked many jobs, including (most notably) at the Belvidere Restaurant. After graduating, he worked for Acme Electric and traveled around the country when he could. For some time, he lived in Gainesville, FL with several friends and his future wife, Ellen. They eventually moved back to Belmont, where he attended Alfred State College, from which he graduated with an Honors Associates Degree in Electronics. Upon earning his degree, he began his career with Xerox Corporation in Webster, NY as a Service Technician. He was a dedicated and well-regarded employee with Xerox for 25 years, and eventually became a Customer Service Engineer. The position included much travel within the United States, as well as internationally, to set-up machines for trade shows. His work ethic and attention to detail put him in high-demand for important corporate events and customers, but also allowed him to further see and explore the world – one of his greatest passions in life. He was a member of the Hornell Moose Lodge #210. He was also very generous to local charities.

Jack was always happiest when he had a chance to spend time with family and friends, the more the better.  He especially loved visiting his mother, Jean, and step-dad, Peter S. Gambino, at their home in Belvidere, a place of such warmth and humor that friends of the family from all generations wished to stop by whenever the chance presented itself.  It was there that his sharp memory and even sharper wit was most often on display as he would regale everyone gathered with stories of his life and experiences, which would get the walls of the place shaking from all the laughter.  The things he remembered and the stories he could tell would often make you wish his memory was not quite so good, but no matter how embarrassing the stories could seem, there was no doubt that his selfless love for those close to him was why he remembered their words and actions so well.  His family and friends would often make a point of remarking on how great of a man he was, that if they needed help or someone to talk to, it was Jack to whom they could turn, and he would always find a way to be there for them.  He tried to extend his kindness to whomever he could, whether it be lending a hand to someone or donations to charities, he would do his best to spread happiness and good will.  He will be greatly missed by those who knew him, but his big heart will be a legacy that will continue to endure.

In addition to his wife Ellen, he is survived by: three children, Sabra (Patrick) Nichols of Alfred Station, Joseph Donovan of Arkport, and Jeannette (Gary Cole) Donovan of Plattsburgh; four grandchildren, Bobbi, Halli, Leah and David; two great-grandchildren; siblings, Roberta (Ted) Seeley, Susan (James) Rosenberger, Fran (Doug Eakins) Gambino, Daniel (Kari) Gambino, Peter (Nichole) Gambino; several nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews; and beloved pets, Roscoe the dog, and Sneakers & Cinders the cats. He was predeceased by: his father, William Donovan; his mother and step-dad, Jean and Peter Gambino; a sister and her husband, Elisabeth and James Kud; four nephews, Noah, Jordan, Mason, and Justin.

Friends are invited to call on Saturday, March 19, 2022 from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at the J.W. Embser Sons Funeral Home in Belmont, 17 Schuyler Street. A graveside service is being planned for a later date at the family’s convenience. Burial will be in Forest Hills Cemetery. Please consider memorial donations to the Hornell Humane Society and the American Cancer Society. To leave online condolences please visit


  1. What a lovely tribute to Jack. He was one of a kind for sure. Very unforgettable. My sincere condolences to Ellen, his children and grandchildren. I know he will be greatly missed.

  2. In our youth, Jack and I were almost inseparable. I cannot recall a day where we weren't carrying out some kind of caper. After all these decades living our lives apart our way, I still would bring Jack up in conversation with the few I stay in touch with back home.I just spoke of him with a mutual friend a week ago. I've learned one lesson in life - if a person can hold up one hand and name a true friend for each finger - that person has had a blessed life. Jack was always a part of my right hand - today it rests on my heart. Lastly, when I heard of his union with Ellen I had one thought - HOW PERFECT! Bless you and Jack's siblings and family

  3. Rest In Peace my super cool, hilarious, and absolutely legendary Uncle ❤️❤️❤️❤️