In Memory of




Obituary for Thomas Milton Donnan

Piffard - Thomas Milton Donnan passed away after a short illness on August 18, 2023 at 81 years old.

He is survived by nieces and nephews Rob (Donna Walker) Donnan, Greg (Jean) Donnan, Gretchen (Mike Seager) Donnan and Aaron (Charity) Donnan, many great nieces and nephews, his sister-in-law Allie Donnan, a close family of Donnan and Webb cousins, and his beloved cats Simon and Fedora. He was predeceased by his parents B. Stewart and Ruth Webb Donnan, brothers Bruce R. and G. Ernest Donnan and sister-in-law Jan Donnan.

Tom was born February 6, 1942, and grew up on the family dairy farm in York, NY. He graduated from York Central School where he is remembered for being incredibly smart and playing the piano in gym class in lieu of sports. Tom received degrees in modern Romance languages from Cornell University and the University of Rochester, earning a doctorate in French Literature with his dissertation The role of Richard Wagner in Marcel Proust's artistic eudemonism (1983).

Tom taught foreign languages at SUNY Geneseo before taking a faculty position in 1986 at the Eastman School of Music as a lecturer in French and Italian, retiring in 2011. Tom published articles in scholarly journals and is the author of diction manuals in French and Italian. His translation from the Italian and German of Luca Lombari’s Construction of Freedom and Other Writings (with Eastman’s Jürgen Thym) was published by Baden-Baden Koerner in 2006.

Tom will be remembered for his great love of cats, movies, Weggie’s, Opera, Paris, and European travel. He prided himself on being a foodie and was an exceptional gourmet cook. Tom created a beautiful home in his restored ca.1790 canal house Taigh na Linne and will be missed by many friends in the local community. The family is grateful to Ned Edmonds and Daryl Swanson who helped Tom stay in the home he loved. We wish we could have had more time with Tom but are grateful for the time we had.

Tom's parting message is: "To all you Donnan Folk I counsel: kinsfolk, friends, music, pictures, beautiful purring kitties, a fine table and whiskey."

Family and friends are invited to a memorial service on Tuesday September 12 at 11 a.m. at Tom's home.

Donations in Tom’s memory can be made to: Linwood Gardens, 1912 York Road West, Linwood, NY 14486, or Finger Lakes Opera, PO Box 18610, Rochester, NY 14618. To share a memory with the family or leave a condolence, please visit