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For the Record
In Memoriam:
Harry Donovan

Bill Sapsis
USITT Fellow

Harry Donovan passed away last Wednesday (September 23) night after a prolonged illness.

I first met Harry when we worked together helping to put together the rigging certification exams for the ETCP. I also had the opportunity to teach with him in Atlanta. It turned out to be one of his last teaching engagements.

I'm not going to kid you, working with Harry wasn't one of the easiest things I've ever done. When describing to a colleague the experience of working on the exams with Harry I said that I thought the word obstreperous had been invented solely to describe his attitude during that process. The difference between Harry and most of the rest of us, however, was that he had the skills to back up his opinions.

Harry was one of the best riggers the rock and roll world has ever known. His instincts were phenomenal. I do not know if he had an engineering degree, but he knew more about rigging engineering than just about anyone else in the business. He knew what he was doing and he was seldom wrong.

Harry's lasting legacy, of course, is his book, Entertainment Rigging. It's a monumental work and the amount of information contained in it is staggering. The effort required to put together such a book is evidence of his passion for training and his conviction that a clear and complete understanding of the rigging business is essential to anyone who ever wants to be called a rigger. My autographed copy (he had a quirky, almost disbelieving smile on his face when he signed it) has a place of honor in my office, right next to Jay Glerum's book and Randy Davidson's.

In a world full of distractions he remained singularly focused. I don't think he much cared what others thought of him or his methods. He was determined to show the world the right way to be a rigger and he wasn't going to let much get in his way.

He was gruff and he could be short tempered. But deep down he cared about us all. He cared enough to write a book. He cared enough to devote time to the ETCP exams and he cared enough to spend of good portion of his career training those who are to come after him just how the job is supposed to be done.

It's sad when anyone passes on and even sadder when it's before their time. But pass on he has. Harry, for your work, your guidance and your friendship I thank you.

Harry Donovan of Seattle, Washington, died September 23 after a prolonged illness. He was born July 3, 1943 in Bath, Maine and graduated from Antioch College on Ohio with degrees in engineering and theatre. He started out as a lighting designer and electrician before becoming a rock and roll rigger.

He founded Donovan Rigging in 1988 and provided services for new projects, venues, and installations including permanent systems for the Chicago Bulls Arena, the Phoenix Suns Arena, and airplanes at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. He also did inspections and investigations of rigging accidents and was an expert witness. He was the author of Entertainment Rigging, first published in 1990.

He was a long time member of IATSE, USITT, and ESTA.

Mr. Donovan is survived by his wife, Patty; his mother, Constance Donovan; two brothers, Tom and Robert; two sisters, Gail Donovan Kesich and Kaja Donovan; several nieces and nephews; and members of the Berg family in Boise, Idaho.

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