In Franklin, a Hometown Hero remains busy, 12 years after retiring from the U.S. Postal Service

Stephen Donahue, center, and the entire Boy Scout Troop 61 have a meeting at the Veterans Memorial Ski Area in Franklin. From left are Scout members Jaxon Desmarais, Lucas Knight, Brantley Donahue, Stephen Donahue,  leader Maxwell Maynard, Jacob Drew and James Machos.

Stephen Donahue, center, and the entire Boy Scout Troop 61 have a meeting at the Veterans Memorial Ski Area in Franklin. From left are Scout members Jaxon Desmarais, Lucas Knight, Brantley Donahue, Stephen Donahue, leader Maxwell Maynard, Jacob Drew and James Machos. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Stephen Donahue (center) and the entire Boy Scout Troop 61 have a meeting at the Veterans Memorial Ski Area in Franklin on Wednesday night, May 8, 2024. Scout members Jaxon Desmarais (left), Lucas Knight, Brantley Donahue, Donahue,  leader Maxwell Maynard, Jacob Drew, and James Machos.

Stephen Donahue (center) and the entire Boy Scout Troop 61 have a meeting at the Veterans Memorial Ski Area in Franklin on Wednesday night, May 8, 2024. Scout members Jaxon Desmarais (left), Lucas Knight, Brantley Donahue, Donahue, leader Maxwell Maynard, Jacob Drew, and James Machos. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Stephen Donahue (center) and the entire Boy Scout Troop 61 have a meeting at the Veterans Memorial Ski Area in Franklin on Wednesday night, May 8, 2024. Scout members Jaxon Desmarais (left), Lucas Knight, Brantley Donahue, Donahue, leader Maxwell Maynard, Jacob Drew, and James Machos.

Stephen Donahue (center) and the entire Boy Scout Troop 61 have a meeting at the Veterans Memorial Ski Area in Franklin on Wednesday night, May 8, 2024. Scout members Jaxon Desmarais (left), Lucas Knight, Brantley Donahue, Donahue, leader Maxwell Maynard, Jacob Drew, and James Machos. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 05-12-2024 6:58 PM

Stephen Donahue retired from the United States Postal Service 12 years ago, at the relatively young age of 61.

And these days, he’s busier than ever.

Whether leading a Scout troop or climbing a ladder to hang a sign for a local business or installing a new floor for a community organization, Donahue’s retirement has been filled with satisfaction that’s not driven by a paycheck.

He’s 73, born in Salem, N.H. And while he’s not technically a native of Franklin, he moved there 40 years ago and has given a lifetime of service since retiring.

“It seems or it feels like he’s a native,” said Sarah Stanley, the public information officer at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton. “He is one of those people who humbly takes action, not for the recognition but because it needs to be done.”

Stanley and Donahue met while volunteering for Choose Franklin, whose members have been selling Christmas trees to benefit others – mainly to fund Scouts of America – for about a decade.

Because he was an individual who’s never met a volunteer cause he didn’t like, Donahue was nominated for Hometown Hero status by Stanley.

“He deserves this,” Stanley said.

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Donahue enlisted in the Navy in 1968 and served until ’72. He worked in construction for 12 years and then joined the U.S. Postal Service.

He’s the heartbeat of the town’s scouting program, bringing his son to a meeting 30 years ago, when the organization was called the Boy Scouts of America. (The name changed to Scouting America once the program went coed.) He had no scouting experience but agreed to take a leadership position and is still at it three decades later.

“They needed a leader,” Donahue said. “I chose to step up as a leader, and I’ve been there ever since. I had no interest in scouting when I was young, but now I see the benefit.”

Donahue’s affiliation with Choose Franklin has created a financial lifeline for local scouting. He and the scouts sell Christmas trees each year, side by side, and half the money is used to defray the costs of membership and charter fees.

“That is how we fund the scouting programs,” Donahue said. “We help them sell the trees, and in return we get sponsors. We have the opportunity to help impoverished areas and the fees for scouting are kind of expensive for some of these kids who live here, so this is not a cost to the parents.”

His altruistic spirit is seen and felt all over Franklin. He helped PermaCityLife, a non-profit, during its efforts to revitalize downtown. Donovan arrived with his tool belt and power and sanding tools loaded in his truck.

Donahue climbed high to hang the sign downtown for Thrift Clothes Closet, an all-volunteer contributor to the town’s welfare.

And he cuts the grass and clears the trails used for walking and hiking and biking at the Veterans Memorial Recreation Area, a year-round nonprofit run by the Franklin Outing Cub.

Meanwhile, Donahue has had custody of his 9-year-old grandson, Brantley, for seven years. He takes him to school and picks him up. They hike and bike together, and Brantley rides on the back of Donahue’s motorcycle for long camping trips.

They also took it upon themselves to maintain the Rail Trail’s five-mile extension, using a lawn tractor with a trailer hitched to the back to carry trash out.

“That was Brantley’s idea,” Donahue said. “We were riding our bikes one time and he said, ‘This is a mess, and we need to clean this up.’ ”

Brantley is the major component in Donahue’s life, adding to a schedule that has seen him selflessly working hard after retiring.

“You got to keep busy when you are retired,” Donahue said.