Performed at Pleasure Island Park, formed Class of ’66 Band
Published December 3, 2018
WAKEFIELD — Samuel “Sam” J. Donato, Jr., 70, formerly of Saugus and Wakefield, died after a long illness, surrounded by his loving family. He was husband to Kathleen M. (Stafford) Donato, with whom he shared 29 years of marriage. He was born in Malden to Samuel J. Donato, Sr. and Phyllis E. (Barratt) Donato. He was a graduate of Saugus High School, class of 1966 and he attended Emerson College.
Sam held many occupations, mostly in the field of entertainment. He began his career as a character actor at the Pleasure Island Amusement Park in Wakefield, from there he started his long tenure with Rex Trailer’s Boomtown.
In 1974, he went into the music business performing in various bands until 1980. He then formed the Class of ‘66, New England’s Premier 60’s and 70’s Band, which lasted about 25 years.
He loved theatre. He performed with the Wakefield Repertory Theatre for nine productions, winning eight EMACT awards. His favorite production was playing Tevye in the Fiddler on the Roof in 1999. He also did many radio shows with the Colonial Radio Theatre as a voice artist.
He worked for the US Postal Service in Andover from 1994 until he retired in 2004.
Upon retiring in 2004, he and his wife, Kathy, migrated to central Florida where he worked for Walt Disney World and Nickelodeon Hotel in entertainment. It was always his dream to work for Disney and to be part of the Disney Family. He returned to Salem in 2016, where he worked at Pet Smart until he retired in 2018.
Husband, Dad, Papa, Brother-in-law and friend were some of the most cherished roles Sam played during his lifetime. He was taken from us too soon.
Sam is preceded in death by his parents Samuel J. Donato, Sr. and Phyllis E (Barratt); his brother Ronald “Jake” Donato and his sister Denise D’Anotuono.
Many loved ones will carry on his memory, including his loving wife, Kathy, his daughter, Jennifer M. Cheever of Wakefield; his step son, Ryan M. Chouinard of Burlington, Vt.; three grandchildren, Annabelle D. Cheever, Theo J. Cheever and Harry J. Cheever of Wakefield; his niece Trisha Morrison of Amesbury and his great-nephew David Davis of Amesbury. Also, his two brothers-in-law and wives, Michael F. Stafford and his wife Loretta Stafford of Danvers; Richard W. Stafford and his wife Perla Peguero of Salem and many friends.
Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Avenue, Wakefield on Thursday, December 6 from 3 to 8 p.m. A celebration of life will be held at the West Side Social Club, 4 Harrington Court, Wakefield on Sunday, January 13, 2019 from 1 to 5 p.m.