PEABODY — It’s going to be a very special Friday night for the Bishop Fenwick High School community.
Prior to the start of the Crusaders’ football game against visiting Archbishop Williams, the Steven E. Donaldson Stadium, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Donaldson’s death in the Vietnam War, will be rededicated in a ceremony slated to begin at 7 p.m.
The ceremony will be held in the stadium with featured speakers and participants including: school president, Mr. Thomas E. Nunan, Mr. Alex Kulevich, Bishop Fenwick’s first athletic director and several former Fenwick football staff members along with many of Donaldson’s family, and teammates and schoolmates.
“Obviously, I never knew Steve, but I have met many of his teammates and classmates over the years and they speak so highly of the type of young man that Steve was,” said Fenwick athletic director and head football coach Dave Woods. “Alex Kulevich and Ralph Le Duc coached Steven and always spoke about him as such an unselfish player, the ultimate teammate.
“We want our players to be like Steven, to be of service to others, to put others before yourself, and we hope that they understand being part of the Fenwick family means being part of something that is bigger than just yourself,”
The Essex County Detachment of the Marine Corps League will be in attendance and the Fenwick band will perform the National Anthem.
Donaldson, who grew up in Peabody, was a member of the Fenwick Class of 1964, the second graduating class of the young school. A talented student, celebrated athlete, football team co-captain and outstanding individual, his service to Bishop Fenwick in the early 60’s taught him the lessons of sacrifice and service to others.
After graduating from Fenwick, Donaldson moved on to Boston College where he majored in education. The son of Edward, a World War 2 veteran, Donaldson enlisted in the Marines and began a tour of duty in Vietnam in January, 1969. He rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant and made the ultimate sacrifice when, while leading his platoon into combat in the Quang Nam province, he was killed on April 5, 1969. He received a purple heart.
The stadium was originally dedicated in Donaldson’s honor in the fall of 1969, thanks to the efforts of many of his classmates and coach Ralph LeDuc.
In 1989, the Steven E. Donaldson Scholarship was established by his family and classmates. The award is given on an annual basis to a Fenwick freshman student who demonstrates the potential and promise of service to others. In addition, the Donaldson Award is given to a graduating Fenwick senior who is a member of a Fenwick sports team and demonstrates spirit, determination and example rather than just ability.
Last summer, the City of Peabody honored Donaldson with a new flagpole and commemorative plaque at Symphony Park, near the family home where Donaldson grew up.
Woods said that, while Donaldson’s time at Fenwick was short, his life serves as the very foundation of what Fenwick football and the entire community are all about.
“There are so many things about the Bishop Fenwick Family that I love and that we all hold sacred and truly appreciate, and playing in Donaldson Stadium has always been something that has been special to me and to our entire football program,” Woods said. “To us, it epitomizes what we strive to be. It’s being part of a true community.”