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Donald J. Donnelly, Alden town supervisor, veteran; May 3, 1925 -- April 11, 2012

Donald J. Donnelly, a former Alden town supervisor and veteran of World War II, died April 11 in Brothers of Mercy Nursing Home, Clarence, after a lengthy illness. He was 86.

Born in Wales Center, Mr. Donnelly was a graduate of East Aurora and Seneca Vocational high schools. During World War II, he participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, as a Merchant Marine. He later was a sergeant in the Army during the Korean War.

Mr. Donnelly was a former commander of Alden Post 1377, American Legion, and a member of Alden Memorial Post 7967, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He had operated Donnelly's Auto Parts in Alden from the late 1950s until he sold the business in 1966, when he first was elected town supervisor. He served three consecutive terms, then was a councilman before regaining the supervisor's job in the 1977 elections.

He resigned in 1979, citing health problems.

Mr. Donnelly also had worked approximately 10 years for the Erie County Parks Department, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.

A former captain and life member of the Alden Fire Department, he was a member of St. Nicodemus Lutheran Church.

From the 1960s, until approximately 2000, he played Santa for groups and organizations he visited during the holiday season.

"He would never take any money from anybody. He just enjoyed doing it," said a daughter, Marcie Mason. She and her sisters had taken turns accompanying him in the elf's role, as the costume fit.

Survivors include his wife, the former Mary Eddy; five additional daughters, Lynn Zwolinkiewicz, Kathi Roach, Patrice Majchrowicz, Kim Miller and Julie Woodruff; and four sons, Keith and Craig, and Thomas and Michael Bennet.

A celebration of Mr. Donnelly's life will be at 2 p.m. Sunday in St. Nicodemus Lutheran Church, 12029 Liberia Road, Marilla.