Lee Donohue Obituary, Death – Donohue joined HPD in 1964 and worked his way up the ranks to become HPD’s eighth chief of police. He was in that position from 1998 to 2004, when he decided to retire after 40 years with the department. “He retired, but he never really retired because he was so involved in so many different things afterwards,” explained friend and Honolulu CrimeStoppers Coordinator Sgt. Chris Kim. “He did Crime Stoppers, he has the Honolulu Police Community Foundation, he has the kick-start program,” Sergeant Kim elaborated.
Even after retiring as police chief, “he was always out and about in the community, always doing his part, and I think that’s why he’s so respected among his peers.” After returning home, he was honored by the city council. “I remember when I came back, there was an award ceremony and he didn’t have to come, but he showed up and it just meant a lot to me that he would show up at that award ceremony at city council,” he recalled. Donohue was elected in 2010 to fill the position left vacant by Charles Djou on the Honolulu City Council.
Donohue has worked with adolescents in a variety of capacities, including as the founder of Kick Start Karate and the Honolulu Police Community Foundation. In 2017, he was elected president of CrimeStoppers. Friend and current Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki remarked, “Today we really lost somebody who was not only a legacy but an icon.” He was well-liked by the community, and I count myself lucky to have worked with him before I became police chief, during his tenure as chief, and after his retirement at Securitas. For her, declining his advances was a challenge. Laughing, Yamaki stated, “He voluntarily informed me I was going to be on the Honolulu Police Community Foundation board.”
She continued, “He was a person you couldn’t say no to because he’s helped me in the past before, and he always told me great stories and he gave me some great mentoring advice.” When Sgt. Kim joined HPD in November 1998, Donohue was the chief. “He was my police chief,” Kim said. “He swore my recruit class in and he was an all-around great guy.” For Sgt. Kim, “he’s just a superhero you know as an adult I would look at him like a superhero, and he was like the greatest guy.” “I’ve always looked up to him of course as my police chief and as a mentor, and also as a family friend.” Those close to Chief claimed they had suspicions that he wasn’t feeling well.