Danville Alumnus and wife donate trees to DHS

Published 7:13 pm Thursday, April 18, 2019



Nathaniel Doneghy has a soft spot in his heart for his former classmates and Danville schools, especially Toliver Elementary School.

Email newsletter signup

He and his wife Donna Davis-Doneghy recently donated 20 October Glory red maple trees that they had grown on their Laurel County farm to Danville Schools. Ten have been planted on Toliver Intermediate School campus, and the remaining ones will be planted at Mary G. Hogsett Elementary School once the expansion project there is finished.

It was important to Doneghy that trees be planted at Toliver because that’s where he attended elementary school. As a child, Doneghy “packed firewood for Miss Toliver,” and his uncle, Pap Gray, was a janitor at the school.

Doneghy said their donation was on behalf of his Danville High School class of 1984 in memory of classmates and two school principals who have died. “We feel like this needs to be done in memory of my classmates,” Doneghy said.

Perhaps other DHS classes, “could do something for the school system,” Doneghy said. “But we’re not expecting it.”

“We are very blessed. We enjoy beauty in trees,” Doneghy said. “We like to give back.”

Nathaniel Doneghy and his wife Donna Davis-Doneghy recently donated 20 October Glory red maple trees to Danville Schools. Photo submitted.

“We know we’ll never sit under these trees. But they will provide life and beauty for others when they sit under them,” in years to come, Doneghy said.

“It’s an amazing thing when alums give back because they don’t have to,” said Steve Becker, chair of the Danville Board of Education. “And it doesn’t always have to be money. Trees are something that keep on giving because as they grow, they help our environment, they help clean the air, they give off shade and they give opportunities to just make things just that much nicer.”

Becker said the Danville Schools had a plaque made commemorating the donation, which will be placed on a donated tree of the Doneghys’ choosing.

In addition to the trees, the Doneghys have also offered to donate all the plant materials for landscaping around all of the school district’s building projects — something that got them a standing ovation at this week’s school board meeting.

It’s not the first tree donations he’s made to Danville Schools. He said 20 years ago he planted five trees at Admiral Stadium in memory of five classmates.

In 2006, he donated the landscaping at First Baptist Church Second and Walnut in memory of his mother, Deborah Doneghy. Not only did he donate the plants, he continues to maintain the landscaping, he said.

“Mom was my mother and daddy,” Doneghy said. He was raised with his six siblings in Danville’s public housing at McIntyre Homes.

“I know what it’s like to be brought up in tough times. I think that being brought up in the project scene made me the person that I am today.”

Doneghy said his mom raised seven children and they’re all successful in their own way.

As a child and into adulthood, Doneghy said people have helped him along the way.

Doneghy said he learned from them that if he was ever in a position to give back to the community, that’s how he could repay them for their help. “I try to do that.”

Early in his career Doneghy was a truck driver. He said in September of 1995, someone threw a wheel off a bridge which crashed through the windshield and took off nearly all of the left side of his face and he lost an eye. That was the end of truck driving, he said.

Now, he and his wife of seven years have a cattle farm in Laurel County. “We grow stuff for our farm. The extra stuff … are for donations for things that we like to give to,” Doneghy said.

“My wife is a big part of this,” Doneghy said. She lost her daughter, Amanda, in a car wreck more than 20 years ago and wants to continue donating trees in her honor too. Doneghy said when she learned how he donated trees in memory of his classmates, she said, “I’m all in. Let’s keep doing it.”