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Jerome X. "Jay" O'Donovan

U.S. Marine Corps
1968 to 1973

Jerome X. "Jay" O'Donovan was a lifelong Staten Islander, a hero in war and a dedicated public servant. He holds the distinction of being the first Vietnam War veteran elected to the New York City Council.

A U.S. Marine Corps Captain and advisor to the South Vietnam Marines, he was awarded two Bronze Stars and Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star and a field promotion to the rank of captain during a one-year of action in Vietnam in 1972. Mr. O'Donovan often told tales of seeing action with a unit of the South Vietnamese military near the DMZ and at the Mychan River, where he earned his decorations.

After his return from Vietnam, he began his career of public service working as an assistant to the Staten Island Borough President in 1974. He married his wife Vita (nee Cannavo) in 1976 and he served in the City Council representing the North Shore from 1983 to 2001 fighting for all Staten Islanders.

While in City Council, O'Donovan passed legislation that ended the fare on the Staten Island Ferry, and was pivotal as sponsor of the city’s law which closed the Fresh Kills Landfill. He fought to pass the “Safe Streets/Safe City” law, putting thousands more police on our streets. He sponsored legislation for tax exemptions for veterans, and to freeze property tax rates.

O'Donovan fought hardest against over-development on Staten Island. He was a supporter of local environmental concerns, such as the creation of the Special Hillside Preservation District and the acquisition of Jones Woods Park and the Chapin Woods addition to Reed’s Basket Willow Swamp Park.

In 2013 Jerome O' Donovan was a strong supporter of the effort to save Mount Manresa, a beautiful and historic 15 acre property on Fingerboard Road that was at risk of being sold to developers. At the group's first rally, O’Donovan described Mount Manresa as a beautiful, natural, pristine landscape, and said if he were borough president, it would be saved. He was an inspiration and a valuable member of the Save Mount Manresa Committee.

O'Donovan was also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Marine Corps League and other veterans groups. He served as the Grand Marshal of the Memorial Day and St. Patrick's parades on Staten Island.

Jerome X. O'Donovan died in 2014 at the age of 70. His dedication to his country and his community will never be forgotten.

Sponsored by South Beach Civic & Friends of Mount Manresa

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