David R. Donigian
David R. Donigian, 75, of Sandy Hook, devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, died peacefully at home on October 30, after a long and courageous battle with prostate cancer. Born in Paterson, N.J., on October 31, 1941, a Halloween baby, he grew up in Fair Lawn, N.J., graduating from Fair Lawn High School in 1959.www.trinitynewtownct.org; Cyrenius H. Booth Library at 25 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470 or www.chboothlibrary.org Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center, 21 Old Farm Road, Newtown CT 06470.; or the
He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and continued his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, earning his master's degree in Spanish Language. It was through the Middlebury College Intensive Immersion Program that Mr Donigian lived in Spain and fell in love with the Spanish language and culture. Also through the same program, he met the love of his life, Eve, who was also studying abroad with the same program in the Spanish Language Academy at Middlebury College.
Staying true to his own family's culture, Mr Donigian was most known for his cooking and baking of Armenian dishes and desserts. He honed his cooking skills when he first opened the Country Squire Diner in New Fairfield in the late 1970s, cooking for hungry customers and preparing pies and cakes for their Thanksgiving dinners. It was after closing the diner that he realized his true passion was education.
Thanks to his experiences in Spain, Mr Donigian knew he wanted to share the Spanish language with others, becoming a Spanish teacher. He started his teaching career in the Norwalk Public Schools, followed by the Weston Public Schools, where he taught Spanish for 35 years, also as the chairperson for the World Language Department for many years. He returned to Spain too many times to count, but also took hundreds of his students to Spain over the years, introducing them to his passion, opening their eyes to life, language, and culture in a different country. His students remember him as an energetic dynamite in the classroom - one student's loving tribute said, "No other teacher ever made me want to get out of bed in the morning like Mr Donigian; he was my absolute favorite; there is no other teacher like him." Others have paid homage to their trips to Spain with him by returning to the country many times themselves and with their families.
Together with his wife in their Sandy Hook home, Mr Donigian would welcome many visitors and guests who would be treated to his amazing cooking and warm, welcoming hospitality. He prepared all of the food for his legendary Thanksgiving gatherings, bridal showers, baby showers, and many other events. He made all of the baklava and Armenian desserts for daughter Christina's wedding, making sure each guest table was supplied with his delicious treats.
His dogs, Bella and Luke, both rescued from animal shelters in Louisiana, became his faithful daily walking partners, through the trails of Fairfield Hills and anywhere else where Mr Donigian thought they would enjoy a beautiful walk. After falling in love with Bella and Luke, he became an advocate for adopting shelter dogs, sponsoring many dogs in the Southern US. By being a sponsor, the dogs are able to receive the medical care and transportation fees they need to make the journey to Connecticut and beyond, where they have a better chance of being adopted by a loving family. So to his sponsored pups, Mr Donigian's family raises a paw to you with full hearts, knowing that in a small way, he was able to help you on your journey to your forever home.
Surviving Mr Donigian are his beloved children, Christina and Matthew and their spouses, Thomas and Andrea. His cherished grandchildren will miss him terribly: Olivia, Michael, Sophia, and Eva. His brother Jeremiah and sister-in-law Anna of Brockport, N.Y.; his sisters-in-law Georgia Peterson of Dunellen, N.J., Dessie Henion of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and four nieces and one nephew also survive Mr Donigian. His wife of 45 years; his parents; and in-laws, Fannie and Lou Chrampanis, predeceased him.
A memorial service in honor of Mr Donigian's life will take place on Friday, November 4, at 2 pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 36 Main Street, Newtown.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, friends wishing to make a donation in his name, choose from the following organizations in Newtown: Trinity Episcopal Church, 36 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470 orÃÂ