Donovan Deakin

Donovan Deakin

Donovan Deakin, 50, of Seattle, passed away unexpectedly on June 15, 2020. Loving husband, devoted father, dependable son, caring brother, and good friend, with a gentle smile and kind eyes.

He was born on a naval base in Virginia and moved about in a military family, with first memories in Milwaukee, hence his life-long love of the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Brewers. His childhood moves, including time in Germany, inspired his love of travel, history, culture, politics, and 1980’s euro-music.

Donovan received his BA in History and Education from the University of Maine. After saving for a few months’ rent, Donovan made his first crossing of the Mississippi en route to Seattle along with his best friend. He planned to become a middle school history teacher and change the world. However, he fell into software as a product manager, working for WRQ/Attachmate, Microsoft, and in cloud computing, before returning home to Attachmate/Micro Focus most recently with a team he loved.

He met his wife in the crowd at the Tractor Tavern, while The Paperboys took the stage. They married on a sunny day on a dock in Lake Union and shared nearly 15 years of love and teamwork. As newlyweds, they moved to Germany, and Donovan was over the moon to share his longest childhood home with Carolyn. While Carolyn worked for the US Army Hospital, Donovan was the Haus Mann, planning trips to dozens of countries and thousands of miles of the back roads of Europe. His most exciting memory was walking through the Brandenburg Gate, without the Berlin Wall, only to be greeted by a Starbucks on the other side.

They returned to Seattle and started a family, welcoming Fiona and then Liam into their lives. Donovan encouraged his children to think outside the box, challenge the status quo, stand up for equality, and explore the world through books, movies, music, food, and travel. Trips included visiting family and discovering San Francisco, Maine, Cape Cod, Hong Kong, and Copenhagen, and many other adventures – pandas and peaceful protests in Taiwan, copper workshops and Semana Santa in colonial central Mexico, a walk of the Freedom Trail in Boston, Dutch canals by sailboat, villages and battlefields of Belgium, castles and socialism in Denmark, goat farms and raptors in central Oregon, camping with the bears in the Canadian Rockies, mosquitoes and humidity in northern Minnesota, and, for his 50th birthday-year trip, rich honest democracy in the cloud forests, bird sanctuaries, walled cities, and graffiti tours of urban centers of Colombia.

He taught Fiona and Liam to think critically while indoctrinating them with progressive values, to make the world a better place. The last book he read to the children was “A Young People’s History of the US.” On the weekend preceding his death, he took Fiona and Liam to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, to show them that democracy required continuous struggle. It was only time he broke the 14-week quarantine; while Carolyn fretted, he said that democracy is too important for the kids not to experience history in the making. He believed that knowledge was power and those ignorant of history were doomed to repeat it.

Donovan was known widely as a kind and gentle man, who enriched the lives of those he touched. He was a loyal son, protective big brother to Fred, youth sports coach, Mariners and Sounders fan, generous poker buddy, political pundit (especially about third party candidates), alt country music fan, and connoisseur of craft beer. All who knew him are richer for his presence, and will cherish their memories and share these with his children.

He is survived by his wife Carolyn Rohrs, children Fiona and Liam, parents Craig and Sarah, brother Fred, sister-in-law Devon Lowery, cousins (Katherine and Rebecca), and scores of heartbroken friends and colleagues.

The celebration of Donovan’s life will be held at a future date in or near Seattle, when social distancing guidelines allow. Instead of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Fiona and Liam’s joint college fund (www.ugift529.com  code N4L-81G). Thank you to the Seattle Fire Department Station 16 and Seattle Medic One. Donovan was adamant that a robust social net be a priority over violence. In Donovan’s memory, work for democracy, equality, and a more peaceful world.

14 Responses to “Donovan Deakin”

  • Alpa Dave says:

    Donovan and I worked together at WRQ. I am deeply saddened by this news. Donovan was smart, friendly, deeply caring for all those around him. He was always there to listen. While I did not keep in touch with him, I am glad to have known him and know that the world will be less bright with him gone. I am sending love to all of you in his family and strength during these times.

  • Wendy Ellington says:

    News of Donovan’s passing feels like a punch to the gut. He’s just 50 years old! He has more adventures to take. More home schooling to lead. More product management to manage. More books to read. More concerts to see. More Dad wisdom to impart. More love to share. I’ll never make sense of the ways of this universe and its cruel timing.

    So here we are. All of us missing our friend.

    To me, the two words I think of most to describe Donovan are ‘kind’ and ‘engaged.’ And one more, ‘calm.’ At work, I am a Project Manager and I work closely with the Product Managers, including Donovan. Our jobs often had us fielding neck-high piles of tasks and to-dos. It can be stressful. But Donovan just whittled away at the lists. He didn’t get grouchy (like me). He just kept moving forward, doing the work. He actually enjoyed the work – the customer interactions, the camaraderie with his fellow PMs, the technology, the research and analysis. And when we’d complete a big project, he’d remind me to drink a whiskey. And he was always quick to appreciate the value of working with good people.

    I wrote this in a note to Carolyn, but will share here too. The pandemic gave us workmates a peek into the special kind of Dad he was. I remember in one of our first on-camera meetings into the quarantine, Fiona and Liam noticed that they could pop up behind their Dad and see themselves on camera. Things went off from there and the crazy faces and laughing began in earnest. Until Donovan made a sly smile and blurred the background. He had an uncanny ability to multitask – to remain both engaged in our work calls while also homeschooling and being a Dad. At the same time. It was quite a skill.

    Donovan — Thanks for recommending Scott and Bailey to me. For recommending I visit the Imperial War Museum in London. For introducing me to the word, “flooking.” For letting me get the final edit to include Oxford commas in our Project Overviews at work even though you weren’t an Oxford-comma believer. For being my Goodreads buddy. For engaging us work mates on various Teams’ channels (re: baseball, Travel, musicshare, homeschooling). For offering a favorite hangover cure – “Greasy mexican food and/or bacon and eggs.” For comparing notes with me after we both attended separate nights of Damien Jurado at the Tractor Tavern. (You and Carolyn made it to the end. I went home early because I’m old. But we both thought it was soooo good.) For speaking up. For being kind and generous and friendly.

    I miss you, Donovan. Sending so much love to Carolyn, and Fiona, and Liam and Donovan’s extended family and friends. This is rough.

  • Nina Moorad says:

    I worked with Donovan back in the WRQ days and was happy to see his return to Attachmate/Micro Focus. Pre-pandemic we would often run into each other in the kitchen and exchange family stories and I would admire his healthy lunches. 🙂 What a lovely and kind person I will miss on this earth. Carolyn, Fiona and Liam, his love for and joy of his family was clear in the stories he shared. While we have never met, I hold you all in my heart and my thoughts are with as you navigate life without him here.

  • Daren Kobata says:

    Donovan and I worked together at Micro Focus. Like I’ve shared with others here at work, I didn’t know him that well, but I got a chance to talk to him just about every week while he was preparing what I call his epic breakfast. We only had a microwave and toaster, but somehow it looked like he just made an order from some restaurant with a stove and grill. He was always up for talking about anything and I will always remember him wearing his Green Bay Packers jersey. His background you posted now tells the story as to why he wore it. Especially during Blue Friday. I always enjoyed his talks on music,travels and family. He will be missed for sure.

  • Sam Morris says:

    Donovan was a fantastic co-worker who became a close friend. We enjoyed many work meetings and rides to/from the airport that turned into shooting-the-breeze chats about sports, politics, home remodeling, and travel. Donovan was a professional that worked hard, and a dedicated husband and father. In all three roles, he set the example for all of those around him. He was a pleasure to know, I’m a better person for having known him. I will miss him greatly.

  • Mike Rogers says:

    Donovan and I were coworkers at Micro Focus. He was absolutely tremendous to work with. I always knew what to expect and his commitment to the products he was responsible for was appreciated by everyone. He really did a spectacular job and had an incredible work ethic.

    Setting all that aside for a bit, there are many, many, more things we will all miss here @ Micro Focus. He helped build a community and was friends to everyone. I always made it a point to stop by when I was in his area and talk about baseball, football, or what’s up with the family. It was clear to me how much he loved his family and cherished all the things he did with them. My kids are a little older so I had experienced the baseball coaching and things like that and it was always clear to me when hearing his stories that he was a model dad – doing things the right way.

    Donovan was frequently seen chatting with his coworkers about just any topic. I firmly believe that everyone loved talking with him and walked away from each conversation feeling better for it. He had that way of cheering people up and connecting with folks on a personal level. He always had a smile on his face and was so easy to talk to.

    What a tremendous loss – way too early – he had so much to give everyone and so much more to accomplish. I miss him dearly and think about him each and every day.

    My condolences during this difficult time. I just wanted you all to know how much we appreciated him and the big impact he has made, and continues to make, on us all.

  • Scott Vitkus says:

    I worked with Donovan at Micro Focus. I always enjoyed working and collaborating with him. Donovan was passionate about his work and just great to work with. I will miss conversations with him about family and his travel logs. We also shared a love of the Green Bay Packers and would often celebrate and commiserate after games during the season. I am glad to have known him and he will be missed.

  • Katherine Park Deakin says:

    Dear Uncle Craig and Aunt Sarah, Carolyn, Fiona and Liam, Fred and Devon,

    Yesterday Fred called me to share that Donovan had passed away on Monday. I wanted to reach out to you to say I am so sorry and that I loved Donovan very much. He had a good, good heart and had an important impact on my life. As a little girl my family drove to MD to attend his high school graduation, I remember he and Fred thoughtfully rented “The Little Mermaid” (the original cool animated version, where she turns to sea foam, not the Disney one) for Becca and I and I remember he had rock posters of U2 and The Cocteau Twins in his room which seemed dark and magical, fascinated me, and influenced me to like rock music, too. When we went to his college graduation, I remember thinking it would be so cool to go to college and have a dorm, like Donovan. I remember his dorm room was bigger because it was built to be accessible for everyone.

    Due to our age difference, I always felt a few steps behind Donovan and like I was catching up. He was so much better than me at keeping touch, he knew the best music, he would occasionally send me links to incredible songs that he thought I would like or be inspired by. He taught me what it means to care for others and make an effort to stay connected, something I hope I can be better at if I can learn from his example. In his kind ways he gave me more than I could ever give back.

    Despite living plane rides away, Donovan went out of his way to visit me many times, each time making it seem like he was “in my neck of the woods” and modestly playing down his effort it took to make it happen. I remember my family picking him up at The Sheraton Hotel during his work trip to Framingham, MA, and meeting him and Carolyn on their stopover in Boston on their way back from Germany, a few times in Alameda, CA where we met Fiona and Liam for the first times. Toddler Fiona was in my lap at the piano and we started playing a little, I remember Donovan was excited and took out his phone/camera to save the memory, he was a proud dad. I had a chance to meet him for lunch at the Seattle Museum of Flight when I had a work trip there for a film screening, I remember him as a history buff, he loved the history at the museum, and I was so proud to share the experience with him.

    He invited Doug and I to crash at his home many times. I am so sad that we still haven’t been there, but always dreamed we would make a road trip up there, we still plan to visit.

    A couple of years ago, when Donovan, Carolyn, Fiona, Liam came to visit Alameda we all had pizza, and I remember Fiona (getting very tall!) jumped into his arms, and he said, “I’m treasuring these moments, I’m not sure how long she’ll keep doing this.” He was a terrific dad.

    Last year, he offered to help with anything at my sister Becca’s wedding, I told him we were all set and I just wanted him to have fun, but Donovan and his family surprised us early in the parking lot before Becca’s wedding started and he volunteered to help carry supplies from our parking lot to the ceremony site together with us. It was such a huge help and unexpected kindness. That was such a special moment to share together and such a reflection of his good heart.

    Donovan always supported me in my fields of music, teaching, and the arts. He always had a kind word to say, and asked about me and cared to know about my band and recording work. He always had a supportive word to say, asking if I was recording or touring, and showed his good heart at every interaction. He had an important impact on my life, especially with music, and also as an inspiration to me of how to be a good person who cares about people, and cares about the world. I admired how he used social media to educate others and promote equality, it was very rock and roll. I also admire his support of live music, and will be sure to make an effort to attend more concerts when it is safe again in his memory. I remember that he used to wish to be a teacher, and he certainly taught me better ways to, “be” and follow my dreams with his kind and steady example.

    I will miss him very much.

    Please let me know any ways I can help.

    Lots of love,

    Cousin Katherine

  • Ed Munoz says:

    This news is such a shock, the loss of someone who was so full of life. I worked with Donovan for many years, going back to WRQ days. We first got to know each other when I was transitioning to a role that had a lot of overlap with his role as Product Manager. It was a situation ripe for friction, but there was none. He mentored me in my new role, and we ended up sharing a large corner office in the Dexter building. That was an unusual arrangement, but it allowed us to work closely together, we helped each other, we enjoyed it, the customer wins just kept on coming, he just made it a win/win all around. The company still has some of the customers we helped win in those days. When he came back to Micro Focus it was like he had never left. He was always full of stories and just always seemed to be smiling. How many people can you say that about? I always looked forward to Girl Scout Cookie time because I would not only get Fiona’s cookies, but I would get to hear his stories about Fiona and Liam. I miss him. Carolyn, Fiona, Liam, our hearts go out to you.

  • Kathy Love says:

    I knew Donovan from our days at University of Maine. He was always such a kind and gentle guy. I lost track of him over the years and had just recently located him on Facebook. I enjoyed his posts and hearing about his life and family. I’m truly stunned at his sudden passing. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his whole family.

  • Todd says:

    I was Donovan’s roommate for a time in college. I got to see him grow and change a fair bit; and it heartens me to see he brought so much joy to so many. We were both huge music nerds, and even up to fairly recently had exchanged some recommendations. Rest easy, my old friend.

  • Barbara Ballard says:

    I am heartbroken, such a loss. I was lucky to have been his teammate for the last few years at Micro Focus and he was such a pleasure to work with. His passion for work, music, family and adventure showed in everything he said and did. He had mad skills as a PM and I learned so much from him, yet wanted to learn more. He was such a calming presence in the middle of chaos and such a light when it got dark. He could make me laugh when I thought I couldn’t. He made me smile when I didn’t want too. He was one of the best teammates I have ever worked with. I will remember his smile and warm presence and hope to carry some of his adventure seeking, love for family and calmness into each day going forward. Carolyn, Fiona and Liam-my thoughts and prayers are with you. I can’t imagine your pain. As I have told my daughters when they cope with loss, the pain is greater when the love is greater. Hold each other tight and know there are many of us that are holding all of you in our hearts.

  • Scott Bressler says:

    I only knew Donovan for less than 5 years but I’m grateful that our paths crossed. I was privileged to work with him on multiple projects since his return to Micro Focus and I always looked forward to our meetings or when we had to team up to get some deliverable completed. He always had a calming effect on me as I’m sure he did with everyone else in the office. He was always smiling and I admired how he took things in stride. But it was the casual conversations, like before a meeting started, chatting about an awesome song or me complaining about how pitiful the Mariners were playing and how he ALWAYS saw the silver lining. I think I complained to him so he could make me feel better about whatever situation was getting me down and he always tried to point out the positive. Donovan was just a really good person and it was apparent as soon as I met him.

    My heart goes out to Carolyn, Liam, and Fiona. If he made such a positive and lasting impression with me in such a relatively short amount of time, I can’t image your loss and how hard this is. But to carry that silver-lining spirit that Donovan seemed to possess, everyone who knew him should feel grateful and honored that he crossed their paths in life.

  • Charles Hicks says:

    Donovan,

    I am heartbroken for your wife and children. I’ve never met them but I had the privilege of working with you and in the few short summers the we shared you enriched my life so I can only imagine how wonderful it was for them to have you around all of the time. You have shown them the best that the world has to offer and taught your children well. I am glad we kept in touch over the years. You were my anchor on the left. One of the very few people who could make me feel like a conservative. Your commitment to fostering the good in humanity will live on long after your 50 years. Please say “hi” to Naomi. Wherever you are, please lead a round of “The Funky Moose” or the “Grand Old Duke of York. Love and peace, Charlie

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