John W. Donaldson, 88, passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 26, 2015, surrounded by family, after a yearlong battle with cancer.. John was born October 13, 1926, to Fred and Esther (Coombs) Donaldson. In 1944, he graduated from Lebanon High School, where he was freshman class president, finished second in his class, was the first recipient of the Neumann-Messick Award, and played with the 1943 State Championship Finalist Basketball team.. He enlisted in the Navy V-5 Flight Program just after turning 17. He was assigned to DePauw University for pre-flight training in 1944, then to Norman Field, Oklahoma, and the U.S. Naval Academy of Annapolis. In the middle of his third year, his military career was cut short when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He went back to DePauw to finish his A.B. degree in 1951. John went on to attend the Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington.. When he was visiting his father in the hospital, John met the beautiful young nurse, Sara Rudolph, his future wife of 61 years. They began dating in the summer of 1953 and were married shortly after in the fall. They built their life in Lebanon with three children and countless lifelong contributions to the community. John began his law career of 50 years with an office in the downtown square of Lebanon. He practiced with several attorneys, including Michael Andreoli and David Truitt.. He was first elected as a state representative in 1956 and served 17 terms in the House of Representatives. At the time he voluntarily retired, he had served in more sessions of the General Assembly than anyone in the history of the state of Indiana and is the only state representative to serve in five decades of the General Assembly.. As a state representative, John worked tirelessly as the sponsor of many pieces of legislation, including no-fault divorce and the first no-smoking bill. He was also six times a delegate to the Republican State Convention, a member of the Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness, a senior member of General Assembly and Dean of the House for 20 years, and served as president of the Boone United Fund For You (BUFFY).. After retirement, John and Sara moved to Zionsville, where he worked 10 years as a driver for Boone County Senior Services. He was a lifelong member of the First Presbyterian Church of Lebanon, where he was an elder, deacon, and sang in the choir. John was a diehard IU basketball and football fan and was known for his IU red jacket. He held season tickets for years and was at every major playoff and championship game.. John is survived by his loving wife, Sara; daughters, Carmen Donaldson and Cathy Donaldson-Kelly (Dan), of Indianapolis; and son, Brad (Tina), of Seattle. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, Bill, Kendra, and Sara Yanney, Maryanne Streer, Megan Skidmore (Jason), Josh Buckallew (Sara), Taylor Buckallew, Patrick Buckalew (Megan), and Michelle Buckallew; five great-grandchildren; his brother, George Donaldson; and numerous nieces and nephews.. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Frank Donaldson.. Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Friday, May 1, at Myers Mortuary, 1502 North Lebanon Street, in Lebanon.. Funeral services are planned for 10 a.m., Saturday, May 2, at the First Presbyterian Church, 128 E. Main St., Lebanon, with Rev. Terri Thorn officiating. Interment will follow services at Oak Hill Cemetery in Lebanon.
Published on  April 29, 2015