Orville Donnelly

Orville Donnelly ( )

Orville Wright Donnelly, a retired physician who was a McDonogh School graduate, died of dementia complications March 28 at Kendall-Crosslands retirement community in Kennett Square, Pa. The former Homeland resident was 91.

Born in Trenton, N.J., he was the son of Catherine Wright and Frederick S. Donnelly, who owned a men's clothing store. His grandfather was Trenton's mayor from 1911 to 1932. He was the nephew of actress Ruth Donnelly, who appeared in numerous films.

He and his widowed mother moved to Baltimore and lived on Tunbridge Road in Homeland. He was a 1940 graduate of the McDonogh School. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry at Swarthmore College and was an officer in the Navy from 1944 to 1946, serving in the Pacific.

After the service, he taught biology at Williams and Bowdoin colleges and at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He was a 1957 honors graduate of the George Washington University Medical School and also had a zoology degree from that school.

Dr. Donnelly, who moved to Chevy Chase, practiced in downtown Washington for many years. Family members said his medical practice invited an African-American physician to join it in the days of racial segregation.

He served on the faculty at George Washington Medical School. He was a vice president and field trip chair of the Hilton Head Audubon Society.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. May 17 at the Kendall-Crossland Communities, 1660 East Street Road in Kennett Square.

Survivors include two daughters, Liza Donnelly of New York City and Helen Olsen of Washington state; two stepdaughters, Nina Freedman of Santa Monica, Calif. and Eden Steinberg of Cambridge, Mass.; and seven grandchildren. His marriages to Elizabeth Ann Gawthrop and Grace Gabe ended in divorce.

Jacques.kelly@baltsun.com