Obituary: Thomas Joseph Donnelly / A founder of Federated Investors

March 4, 1925 - Feb. 26, 2011

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Thomas Joseph Donnelly, who founded Federated Investors with two Central Catholic High classmates and was active in Catholic and community causes, died Saturday at a Lawrence, Mass., nursing home from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 85.

Mr. Donnelly's practice of law in Pittsburgh was interrupted in 1955 when he started Federated with John Donahue and Richard B. Fisher, also members of the Central Catholic class of 1942.

Mr. Fisher said Mr. Donnelly's contributions early on included convincing banks and other investors to put money into the new company's money market funds, a pioneering investment at the time. Today, Federated manages $264 billion in money market fund assets.

"Without him, we would have never been as successful as we are today," said Mr. Fisher, Federated's vice chairman.

Mr. Donnelly served as Federated's outside legal counsel, a title he maintained despite his health problems in recent years.

Like many of his Federated colleagues, Mr. Donnelly was a devout Catholic. He served as chairman of Carlow University's board for 25 years, was former vice chairman of the board of the Catholic University of America, and chaired a capital campaign for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He also was active with the National Advancement Council of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association; St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, Mich.; the Catholic Common Ground Initiative Committee; Weston Jesuit School of Theology; the Harvard Divinity School Ministerial Advisory Council; and other religious organizations.

He also served on the boards of the Pittsburgh Symphony Society and United Way of Allegheny County and was active in Morality in Media, Americans United for Life, Outward Bound and other organizations.

The Catholic church and an aunt who raised him and two siblings were two early influences on Mr. Donnelly's life, according to his son, Michael Donnelly of Marshall. The aunt's selfless example inspired his devotion to his family, church and community, Michael Donnelly said.

"When he was lying there dying, I wasn't worried about him making it into heaven," he said.

Mr. Donnelly received an engineering degree from the University of Michigan in 1946 and a law degree from the university in 1950. He was a partner in the Pittsburgh firm of Houston, Houston & Donnelly.

Mr. Donnelly also is survived by his wife of 55 years, Marilyn Pfohl Donnelly of Lawrence, Mass., and five other children: T. Christopher Donnelly and Elizabeth Anne Donnelly of Belmont, Mass.; Heather Annaloro of North Andover, Mass.; Megan Donnelly of Rye, N.H.; and Peter Donnelly of Watertown, Mass.; a sister, Ruth Donnelly Egler of Squirrel Hill; and 13 grandchildren.

Visiting hours are from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. today at John A. Freyvogel Sons, 4900 Centre Ave., Shadyside. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday in Sacred Heart Church in Shadyside.

Contributions may be made to Carlow University, 3333 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213 or St. Mary Student Parish, 331 Thompson St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.


Len Boselovic: lboselovic@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1941.


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