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Last of La Sallian expat brothers dies

PETALING JAYA: A firm disciplinarian with a great sense of humour, wit and passion in moulding character is how most people remember La Salle Brother Felix James Donohue (pic).

Donohue, the last of the La Sallian expatriate brothers, died Sunday at 11.20am after a long illness. He was 86.

V. Nantha Kumar, 53, a former student of the La Salle Petaling Jaya (PJ) – from 1977 till 1983 – recalled Donohue as a firm disciplinarian who instilled good behaviour, family values and respect among the community.

“It was his personality – firm yet with a great sense of humour,” said Nantha.

“He knew how to interact with students, teachers and parents in a way that elicited a positive engagement,” said Nantha, who is currently La Salle PJ alumni association president.

Donohue was also far-sighted.

Nantha said he personally encouraged him to participate in the alumni association.

“He got the old boys reconnected and working with the present school administration so that the students can benefit from it,” Nantha said.

Chong Ah Loi, 62, who was the school’s principal for nearly five years, said Donohue was a good friend and mentor who did not judge anyone.

“People loved him to bits. Although he did tame some of the (mischievous) students, he did it with such love which caused them to transform,” said Chong, who retired in 2015.

Donohue believed that students should be groomed in their personal development as well as academic growth, said Chong.

Chow Sang Hoe, who attended La Salle PJ from 1977 to 1983, said Donohue, who was the principal then, was supportive and kind.

“In 1983, I was the sixth form president and went to see him as we wanted to organise the school’s 21st anniversary.

“He gave me all the freedom to organise it,” said Chow, now a managing partner in an international firm.

Born in Ireland, Donohue joined the La Salle Brothers and took his first vow on Sept 7, 1947.

He came to Malaysia on Nov 9, 1952 after a 21-day journey from Southampton, England, and began his first assignment as a teacher with St Xavier’s Institution in Penang the following year.

He was La Salle PJ principal from 1975 until 1988, his last teaching post before he became the chairman of the La Salle PJ Board of Governors from September 1988 to December 2015.

The wake will be held nightly at 8pm at the Paul Miki Room, Church of St. Francis Xavier, Petaling Jaya until tomorrow.

The funeral mass will be at 10am on Thursday at the same church.