Ann Donahue

Ann and Joe Donahue: Creating a Refuge of Tranquility, Meditation, and Renewal in Camarillo

In celebration of the 110th anniversary of St. John’s Hospitals, St. John’s Healthcare Foundation is publishing a series of stories featuring key supporters who have left their mark on St. John’s and our community over the last 110 years.

For more than 15 years, patients, visitors, and staff of St. John’s Hospital Camarillo (SJHC) have found a refuge of tranquility, meditation, and renewal in the Donahue Healing Garden. The 23,000 square feet garden was designed by landscape architect Tom Bostrom to meet the needs of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and includes several water features, two bridges, a gazebo, and several private alcoves. 

The creation of the garden was made possible by a generous donation from Ann Donahue (1920–2009) in honor of her late husband Joseph Donahue (1918–2001) in appreciation of the compassionate care he had received at SJHC. At the garden’s opening ceremony in 2006, Ann said “My biggest hope is that people will enjoy the garden and it will give them a nice feeling. I think a place is needed, especially in today’s time, where they can go and relax and get a breath of fresh air.”

Ann and Joseph Donahue grew up in Massachusetts during the Great Depression and were married in 1943 while Joe was serving in the Coast Guard during World War II. After the war, Joe worked as an engineer for jet engines at General Electric. In 1956, Joe, Ann, and their 8-year-old daughter Ann moved to the San Fernando Valley where Joe worked for North American Aviation, Rockwell, and Boeing. When Joe retired in 1980, the couple moved to Camarillo to enjoy the cooler climate of Ventura County.

The Donahues received surgical and emergency care at SJHC on several occasions during their retirement years. “Every time, the care was perfect and everyone treated us so well,” Ann said. After Joe passed away unexpectedly in 2001, Ann made several generous donations to St. John’s Healthcare Foundation to honor her husband and give back to the community she cherished. One major gift enabled St. John’s to acquire new state-of-the-art medical equipment for SJHC’s Emergency Department in 2005. Her most significant and enduring gift resulted in the Donahue Healing Garden, where the philanthropic spirit and vision of Ann and Joe live on. 

Learn more about Ways to Give >

Donate Now >

Discover more Giving Stories >