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Dr Kathleen Owen Donovan 1931 - 2014

(submitted by Dr Judy Fitzmaurice)

A remarkable life ended 6th January  2014 when Dr Kathleen Donovan was set free from her struggle with  Alzheimers disease at the age of 82years.  Blessed with an amazing mind and always seeking new ideas, Kath had achieved in many areas.  

Kathleens father was Dr Charles Owen Donovan, a WWI hero decorated with the DSO for outstanding bravery treating wounded soldiers in the trenches in France; her mother was a daughter of Charles Fletcher who was a long standing Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Kath chose to study Agricultural Science at Sydney University and excelled. Following being awarded the Sydney University Gold Medal, she won the Walter and Eliza Hall Scholarship to undertake PhD studies at Edinburgh University on the serology of milk.  Loneliness in Scotland led to church attendance and, stimulated by the text Seek and ye shall find, she became deeply committed to Christ whilst reading and rereading J.B. Phillips  NT paraphrase.  This resulted in a tremendous career change.  Already with a doctorate in microbiology and having always been against following her father into a medical career she now decided medical work would be of more help to people in developing countries.  To the amazement of all who knew her well she returned to Sydney University and gained First Class Honours in Medicine. 

In 1966  Kaths missionary career began.  For the next 17 years she lived and worked  amongst the Gogodala tribal people in the remote Western Province of Papua New Guinea at Balimo Health Centre, with the then Unevangelised Fields Missions (now Pioneers of Australia).   She developed a keen interest in Malaria, being the first to report chloroquine-resistant strains in her area and writing a book for non-medical  people on malaria, as well as scientific articles on malaria, pig bel and other tropical diseases.  During the 1975 Independence celebrations for Papua New Guinea, Kath was awarded the Papua New Guinea Medal of Honour for services to the country. By the time she left PNG, having served as Balimo Medical Superintendent, she left a well-appointed 100 bed hospital, which was staffed by a team of  dedicated healthcare workers; a  Registered Nurse Training School had been established ; along with a network of  supervised Aid Posts covering an area of 20,000 people. Along with this impressive medical leadership, Kathleen was a devoted Christian, maintaining disciplined habits of early morning prayer and Bible reading and actively promoting evangelism and Christian outreach through the medical work. It was often said that a significant portion of those who became Christians in those early days did so because of their contact with the Christian medical work at Balimo and associated outstations.

Upon returning to Australia in 1983, Kaths interest in stress management led her to write a book Growing Through Stressand  to setting up the Christian Synergy Centre with her friend and missionary  co-worker Ruth Myors.  Together they had a long ministry working with and caring for  missionaries and other Christian workers, Kath majoring on medical care and Ruth the psychological; together they lectured at SMBC on Pastoral Care for some years.

 In 2008 Kath was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease.  This was accepted by her as another way in which she could bring glory to God and enrichment to others.