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News > Announcements > Obituaries > In Memoriam: Kevin O'Donovan (65-70)

In Memoriam: Kevin O'Donovan (65-70)

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Kevin O'Donovan (65-70), who we sadly lost in 2022.
8 Jun 2022
Written by Robin Knight
Obituaries

KEVIN O’DONOVAN (65-70)

Kevin O’Donovan (65-70) died in Sydney in May 2022, aged 70, after a ten-month battle with a rare and aggressive liver cancer. Courageously, and with typical good humour, he fought to the very end. A celebration of his life took place at the Surf Club in Avalon Beach in Sydney’s northern suburbs in early June. He left a wife Judy, two daughters by his first marriage and a grandson.

At Pangbourne Kevin proved to be one of the outstanding Chief Cadet Captains of the College in the school’s history, holding the rank for three consecutive terms and winning HM The Queen’s Gold Medal in the summer term of 1970. In this role he proved to be crucial to the transformation of the Nautical College into Pangbourne College during Peter Points’ first year as Headmaster – something Peter acknowledged publicly on Founders’ Day 1970 in these words: “We had a leader of wholehearted devotion to Pangbourne.” As OP Chris Simond (62-66) puts it: “Peter needed an ally to guide him through the institution’s unusual methodologies, and in particular its naval traditions. Kevin led the way. Age was no barrier. The student and teacher relationship became temporarily reversed. They remained friends for decades.”

Kevin’s penchant for leadership also was underlined on the sporting field by his captaincy, from the awkward position of loose-head prop, of the 1969 1st XV which won 11 of its 13 matches. This success, noted The Log, “amply reflected his powers of leadership. He rarely made a tactical error and was able to extract maximum effort from the whole team…He led from the front.”  In addition, he was a key member of the talented 1970 1st VIII which, despite a disappointing Henley, was nevertheless the fourth fastest schoolboy crew in the U.K. that year. Later he represented London Rowing Club in the Wyfold IVs at Henley in 1973 together with another OP, Shaun Maynard (60-64).

The following year, now working in shipping, Kevin followed Maynard out to South Africa and joined Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Company in order to bring its business into the new world of containerisation. Tiring of this, in 1980 he joined Maynard at the ship brokers Peninsular Shipping in Johannesburg, later moving to a competitor shipbroker and basing in Cape Town.

Before leaving England, he had married Jackie. In Johannesburg, the couple were known for throwing memorable parties, normally with some sort of theme. But the marriage did not last and in the 1990s a divorce followed. Seeking a new start, and after many business trips to Australia, he decided to move to Sydney about 20 years ago. Here he set up his own ship broking business, met and married his second wife Judy, and always lived by the maxim “Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.”. He retained many OP friends throughout his life. One of them, Jon Brakespear (64-68), paid him this tribute: “He was an immense character with a great sense of humour. He will be remembered with great affection by a great many people all around the world.”

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