Thursday, November 26, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ed Donohoe, Veteran Editor, Known For His Sharp Pen And Wit

Ed Donohoe, native son and veteran editor whose column in the Washington Teamster newspaper skewered Washington's high and mighty for more than 30 years, died yesterday. He was 74.

The man once labeled "the Don Rickles of the typewriter" was remembered fondly by a host of friends, who said his wit, irreverence and, yes, compassion will be missed.

"You weren't anybody unless you'd been maligned by Ed Donohoe," said Bob Pavolka, president of the Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28. "And no one was immune."

"He was a cantankerous writer, but boy, he said what he wanted to say," said Wayne Cody, sportscaster for KIRO radio, who knew Mr. Donohoe for nearly two decades. "He was always fun to be around, always had an angle, and it was usually an angle that no one had thought about before."

Some memorable one-liners from Mr. Donohoe's lethal typewriter:

-- Former Mayor Wes Uhlman: "Our prematurely gray mayor is also prematurely dumb."

-- U.S. Rep. John Miller: "He talks like he brushed his teeth with Elmer's Glue."

-- Former KIRO-TV president and editorialist Lloyd Cooney: "In a race with a test pattern, Cooney'd come in second."

Mr. Donohoe began writing his column, "Tilting the Windmill," in 1950, and continued until his retirement in 1984. His acerbic writing attracted some readers to the official Teamsters publication who ordinarily would never have picked up a labor newspaper.

"There are few sacred cows in the Donohoe barn," the late Seattle Times columnist John J. Reddin wrote in 1965. "He ridicules the stuffed shirts and impudently lampoons some of the most exalted names in the community, often without letup or mercy."

"There is nothing subtle about a Donohoe attack," former Times reporter and columnist Don Duncan wrote in 1980. "It is like being run over by a Mack truck, or being in a street fight, with knives."

Mr. Donohoe was known also for emceeing fund-raising events for the Catholic Seamen's Club, at which he verbally roasted everyone who was anyone in the city. The annual luncheon was always sold out.

"They were afraid to come, but they were afraid not to come, too," said Carrol Vizzare, a secretary in the Teamsters' office who knew Mr. Donohoe for many years.

Duncan said he remembers Mr. Donohoe once roasting former City Councilwoman Phyllis Lamphere. "He called her a broad in front of 1,500 people, and she just sat there and took it."

But Kevin Donohoe, one of Mr. Donohoe's sons, said his father's motive always was humor, not vitriol. "He would hammer people in the column, and the next week go to lunch with them," Kevin Donohoe said.

"Ed was a puncturer of pomposity. He took aim at politicians and sports figures," said retired sportscaster Rod Belcher, who had known Donohoe since the 1940s. "Undoubtedly he would have had some great lines about the current University of Washington problems.

"A lot of people would get sore at Ed because they didn't understand it was all in good fun. It didn't bother him any, he kept right on doing his puncturing.

"It's sad to see your contemporaries go one by one. Ed was a good one," Belcher said. "He was an institution with all the (state) Supreme Court justices," said Ed Tyler, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters Local 227 and a longtime friend. "He'd wear his baseball hat and maybe no tie or his tie half-cocked. He'd come to lunch with the most important people in his old rumpled suit while everybody else looked great."

Mr. Donohoe gave many politicians and institutions nicknames that stuck, although some of his targets probably wished otherwise.

Some examples: "Slippery Slade" (Sen. Slade Gorton), "Straight Arrow" (former Gov. and Sen. Dan Evans), "Fairview Fanny" (The Seattle Times), "Graytop" (Uhlman), "Lud the Dud" (former Seattle city councilman and Secretary of State A. Ludlow Kramer), "Smoky the Bore" (former Fire Chief Gordon Vickery).

His institutional targets ranged from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair to the Pike Place Market and the University of Washington Board of Regents.

"Most of all, I don't like the starched collar attitude," Donohoe said in a 1968 interview. "I like humor."

Mr. Donohoe was longtime secretary of the Puget Sound Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, and helped script its annual banquet, a lampoon similar to the famous Gridiron Club banquet in Washington, D.C.

Born Edmund Joseph DeValera Donohoe on Queen Anne Hill, fifth in a family of nine children, Mr. Donohoe attended Seattle Prep High School and St. Martin's College in Lacey. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1961.

He went to work for the Teamsters Union in 1941, at the age of 22.

Mr. Donohoe served in the South Pacific during World War II as an Army medic, earning the Bronze Star for bringing out wounded men under fire.

He served on the boards of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Pacific Northwest Research Foundation, the Washington State Commission on the Humanities and KCTS-TV.

Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Mildred; three sons, Kevin, Dan and Tom, all of Seattle; two brothers, James Donohoe of Tucson, Ariz., and Leo Pat Donohoe of Los Angeles; and two sisters, Eileen Donohoe and Madeleine Anderson, both of Seattle.

Rosary will be said Monday at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 732 18th Ave. E. Funeral services will be Tuesday at 3 p.m., also at St. Joseph's.

The family suggests remembrances to the Pacific Northwest Research Foundation.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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