- Editor’s Note: This article was updated Dec. 20.
Residents of Geneva and all of Kane County are mourning the loss of former Kane County Board member, former Geneva community development director, trailblazing businessman and active philanthropist Mike Donahue.
Donahue died Thursday (Dec. 12, 2019) from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was 58 years old.
Celebration of life arrangements have not been posted at this time, but an obituary with the Freedom Waters Foundation may be found at this link.
In a statement to the community on Monday (Dec. 16, 2019), Donahue’s longtime friend, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, said the city’s flags would be lowered to half staff in Donahue’s memory.
Burns said Donahue was diagnosed with ALS three years ago and “fought the disease with courage, humor and selflessness.”
Records indicate Donahue served as Kane County Board member from 2010 to 2014. In that capacity, he is perhaps best know for advocating for a higher end use for the Settler’s Hill Landfill site, which is presently being transformed into a nationally recognized championship level cross-country course.
Professionally, he was a trailblazer in the renewable energy field, a founder of Midwest Wind Energy, LLC, a company that facilitated the use of wind turbines in rural areas and worked with communities and local governments to receive the necessary permits for their construction.
In Geneva, he and his family had one of the area’s first solar-powered homes, and he was a strong proponent of Kane County initiatives in solar power, such as the panels that now provide energy for the Kane County Animal Control facility.
As community development director in Geneva, he spearheaded efforts to create the Prairie Green Preserve, a 580-acre publicly-owned prairie/wetland restoration and passive recreation site.
After the sale of $10 million in bonds for the purchase of land, 360 acres were acquired between 1999 and 2002. An additional 80 acres were acquired with the Kane County Forest Preserve district in 2002. The city accepted 140 acres of surplus land from the Illinois Department of Corrections in 2003.
Donahue also was well known as a generous benefactor of several nonprofit agencies. He and his wife, Carol, served as chairs of the annual Marklund Top Hat Gala. At his second home in Naples, FL, Donanue served as vice president of the board on the Freedom Waters Foundation, whose mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with special needs and veterans through providing therapeutic boat experiences.
Donahue’s community activities included membership in the Rotary Club of Geneva, where he was named “Rotarian of the Year” in 1996. He was a member of the Geneva Golf Club and was a 1979 graduate of Geneva Community High School.
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