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Donahue, John

Chicago, IL

John Donahue, the executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and an advocate for the needy across the world, has died at the age of 64.

Donahue had been the director of the coalition since 1990, and he worked to end homelessness and to create affordable housing and jobs, according to a news release Tuesday from the coalition.

He died Monday at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, the release stated.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, issued the following statement on the death of Donohue:

"John Donohue was a very caring and selfless individual who was deeply committed to helping those who lack a roof over their heads. He played a major role in the Chicago Continuum of Care, which developed the Plan to End Homelessness that we announced last January, and it's a shame that he won't live to see that plan implemented. His passing is a great loss, not only to the homeless, but to the entire city of Chicago."

Before joining the coalition, Donahue worked in Panama, organizing indigenous tribes in the Panamanian rain forest as director for the project "Agro Bia Mundi Yala," the release stated. He held that position from 1987 to 1990, the release added.

Donahue also worked from 1982 to 1987 as executive director of the organization Comite Latino, as an advocate for housing, employment and immigration policy in the Uptown and Rogers Park communities.

From 1979 to 1982, he worked as division director of the Association House of Chicago in the Wicker Park neighborhood, where he was in charge of youth employment training programs, according to the release.

Donahue was a former Roman Catholic priest, and he was the vicar of the Archdiocese of Panama from 1971 until 1979, the release stated. As vicar, he lived in San Miguelito, a "squatters community" near Panama City, where he organized a pre-school project, credit union and housing project, the release stated.

Prior to moving to Panama, Donahue was a teacher, administrator and reverend at Visitation High School of Chicago.

He received his bachelor's degree in philosophy and master's degree in divinity from St. Mary of the Lake University in Mundelein.

Donahue is survived by his wife, Icela, and their five children -- Belen, Maricela, Lisa, Daniel, and Megan. They lived in the Edgewater neighborhood.