Obituary of Donald M. Mawhinney, Jr.
On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Donald M. Mawhinney, Jr. peacefully passed away at the age of 94 at his home, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Syracuse, New York, to Donald M. Mawhinney, Esq. and Antoinette S. Mawhinney. Don graduated from Nottingham High School and served as elected President of the Student Body, Vice President of the Syracuse Chapter of Gamma Sigma Fraternity, and Captain of the Tennis Team. He was honored in 2010 to be placed on the Nottingham High School WALL OF FAME. He attended Syracuse University and, at the age of 17, enlisted as a Private in the United States Army in April 1944 prior to D-Day. He was transferred to the Army Air Corps and attended Armorer School and Gunnery School. Don served with the rank of Corporal as a Nose Gunner on a B-24 bomber. He attended and graduated from Officer Candidate School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant Cavalry serving as a Tank Platoon Commander. Don served in the Army Reserve from 1946 to 1950, attaining the rank of 1st Lieutenant, Armored. Don returned to college and obtained his B.A. degree at Hamilton College where he was a member of Psi Upsilon Fraternity, the Varsity Tennis Team and the Debating Team, and was Varsity Basketball Manager. He thereafter obtained LLB and JD degrees from Cornell Law School where he was a member of Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity. Don was admitted to practice law in New York State in 1952 and was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court in 1978. He started to practice law in 1952 at the firm of Beekman & Bogue, Wall Street, New York City, and, in 1954, was a Legislative Assistant to New York State Assemblyman Lawrence Rulison in Albany. In 1954, Don joined the Syracuse law firm of Hiscock, Cowie, Bruce, Lee & Mawhinney, now Barclay Damon, LLP, where he became Partner in 1958 and practiced general law for more than 65 years. He represented U.S. businesses and firm clients in 23 foreign countries. Don served on the Onondaga County Board of Supervisors (now the Onondaga County Legislature) from 1958 to 1965. During that time, the Legislature’s major accomplishments included the creation of the Executive Branch of the County Government headed by a County Executive, revision of the County Charter, legislation for the $40 million funding and construction of the Lake Ontario water supply for Syracuse and Onondaga County, and creation of the County Tax Map. He was Chairman of the committee for the construction of the Public Safety Building. Don was a founding trustee of Onondaga Community College, appointed in 1961, where he continued his service for over 56 years. He served as Secretary, Vice Chairman and Chairman of Onondaga Community College, Founding Director of Onondaga Community College Children’s Learning Center, Inc., and Attorney, Founding Director, Secretary and President of the Onondaga Community College Foundation. In 2006, the College named an academic building in his honor for his many years of service and as the longest serving Trustee in the 64-campus State University of New York system. Don was also the longest serving two-year community college trustee in the United States and Canada, and was appointed Trustee Emeritus in 2016. Don was a founding Trustee of the Erie Canal Museum, serving for 48 years, including as Chairman. Governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed Don Chairman of the New York State Erie Canal Park Planning Committee. For several years, he was a Delegate to the Fifth Judicial District Convention for the selection of candidates for New York Supreme Court judgeships. Don has received the following recognition: • Selected by the Syracuse Community as the Junior Chamber of Commerce “1962 Young Man of the Year”. • For his work for community colleges, the “Distinguished Service in Trusteeship” recognition from the national Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. • The “Association Distinguished Service Award” for 30 years of participation in the New York State Association of Community College Trustees activities where he served as an active member of its Executive Committee and as President. He also received the “Anne M. Bushnell Award for Extraordinary Leadership and Special Achievement”. • Honored with a life membership in the national Association of Community College Trustees. He also received the “United States Northeast Region Trustee Leadership Award”. Don is listed in “Who’s Who in the East”, “Who’s Who in American Law”, “Super Lawyers”, “Global Who’s Who”, “Presidential Who’s Who”, and “International Who’s Who of Professionals”. He also was recognized by the Martindale-Hubbell “AV Peer Review for Very High to Preeminent Ethical Standards and Legal Ability”. Don was active on the board of Hope for the Bereaved, where he was honored in November 2016 at the annual Hope dinner for his numerous contributions and philanthropic work. He also served on the boards of the YWCA (Board Chairman), Junior League of Syracuse (Attorney), Junior Chamber of Commerce, Americanization League (Vice President), Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Foundation, Syracuse Governmental Research Bureau, Better Business Bureau of Greater Syracuse (President), Syracuse Symphony (Vice President and Attorney), Board of Trustees of the Association of Community Colleges in the State University of New York (President), and the New York Community College Trustees Association Foundation (Chairman). He was a member of the New York Seniors Golf Association (Director), Century Club, Onondaga Golf and Country Club, Gyro Club, Sons of the American Revolution, American Legion, St. Andrew’s Society, Eastside Racquet Club, Sedgwick Farms Tennis Club, University Club and the Liederkranz Club. Don belonged to the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Advisory Council, American College of Trusts and Estates Council, American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association (Chair, International Law Section), Onondaga County Bar Association, American Bar Foundation, New York State Bar Foundation, and New York State Bar Association House of Delegates. He was also a New York State Delegate to the 1988 Far East Conference with Lawyers’ Association in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Don was a member of Park Central Presbyterian Church where he was a Deacon, Elder, Trustee and Attorney for the Church for many years. Don enjoyed summers with his family at their home on Big Moose Lake, Eagle Bay, New York, where he was a member of the Big Moose Community Chapel. The family also enjoyed annual winter ski trips to Vail, Colorado. All his life, Don loved collaborating with others to achieve common goals to benefit the community. He enjoyed helping and supporting family, friends and clients. Don was predeceased by his loving wife of 62 years, Gail Sargent Mawhinney. He was also predeceased by his sister and brother-in-law, Ann M. and H. Follett Hodgkins, Jr. He is survived by his four children, Diane M. (Steven) Baker of Eagle Bay, New York, Bruce P. (Linda) Mawhinney of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Joyce M. (Craig) MacKnight of Syracuse, and Carol M. (Michael) Canne of Syracuse; eight grandchildren, David (Carey) Baker, Elizabeth and Gail Canne, Bryce, Connor and Paige Mawhinney, and Halle and Alex MacKnight; three great-grandchildren, Owen, Liam and Finn Baker; and a much loved niece and nephew, Cindy (Dan) Schallmo and Chip (Lisa) Hodgkins. A private service and burial will be held at the Fayetteville Cemetery. A Celebration of Don’s Life will be held when it is safe for family and friends to gather. Contributions may be made to the Onondaga Community College Foundation Donald M. Mawhinney, Jr. Scholarship Foundation, Hope for the Bereaved (Syracuse, NY), the Erie Canal Museum, or to a charity of your choice. Arrangements are with Fairchild & Meech DeWitt Chapel.To plant a tree in memory of Donald Mawhinney, Jr. , please visit Tribute Store