William “Bill” Leonard Donigan

William “Bill” Leonard Donigan, peacefully died at home on the morning of Sept. 21st, 2017, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. Bill influenced and touched so many people throughout his life with kindness and encouragement. He was an integral part of university life as well as the fabric of his beloved Gainesville community. Everyone who met Bill, loved him.
Bill was born on August 20, 1930 in West Belmar, N.J. to William and Mildred Donigan. He grew up as an only child, and was the pride and joy of his parents and grandparents. Bill graduated from Manasquan High School while excelling in football, basketball and baseball. In 1947, Bill’s American Legion baseball club won the New Jersey state championship and he got to meet Babe Ruth at the awards banquet.
Bill attended Notre Dame on a baseball scholarship, transferring to Duke University where he lettered in baseball and soccer. He played 3rd base alongside All American shortstop Dick Groat as the Blue Devils went to the College World Series in 1952 and 1953. Bill was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, but a shoulder injury cut his career short.
It was at Duke University where Bill met his beloved wife, Marilyn Cissie Murray. Cissie was a freshman and the daughter of Duke’s new head football coach, Bill Murray and his wife Carolyn Murray. It was love at first sight on campus and he pursued and adored Cissie from that day forward. As a senior, and finally passing his Spanish exam, a prerequisite to being able to marry Cissie, on March 22, 1954 they were married in the Duke Chapel. Bill’s first job interview resulted in being hired at Old Republic Insurance and they moved to Dunedin, FL. Early in his career, he was so successful at Old Republic, a large promotion was offered and the request to move his family to Chicago. The thought of leaving sunny Florida was dreadful and helped Bill and Cissie define a different path and pursue their dream of starting Donigan’s clothing store. For a short time, they moved back to Durham and learn the retail clothing business at The College Shop near Duke. They researched and traveled throughout the southeast to find the best college town to open their store. The rest is history. Donigan’s clothing store was opened in Gainesville, FL in August 1958!
Donigan’s was always the place to be. Bill was the man to know. He was fun, exciting and often asked to “chaperone” fraternity dances at the Sigma Chi and Phi Delt houses. Bill developed a loyal following and University of Florida students were introduced to the ways of college fashion. Bill and Cissie taught men to tie ties, match colors and women how to dress for all occasions! During the 30 years in business, students who shopped at Donigan’s came back time and time again and often became lifelong friends, returning year after year to visit them. Bill was a mentor and encouraged many young people to stay in school, pursue their dreams, have fun and learn how to dress. He made every customer feel special when they walked in the door. If you had something important to dress up for, you went to Donigan’s.
Bill and Cissie loved raising their four children, as well as the rest of the neighborhood children on 23rd Terrace. Often waking up to 20 kids watching cartoons downstairs, who gathered before starting Gator game car parking or heading out to Florida Field to sell Coke’s. Bill and Cissie’s commitment to their children was impressive, teaching participation and sportsmanship through example. Bill spent family time coaching Little League, traveling to tennis tournaments, summers at Long Pond and his personal favorite, stone-crabbing and fishing at Cedar Key. Later in his life, he and Cissie spent time in Cashiers, North Carolina at their mountain house and Wildcat Cliffs C.C.
His wife, Marilyn “Cissie” Murray Donigan, predeceased Bill on Jan. 21st, 2011 and he is survived by his four children; Bill and his wife Heyward, Marilyn Samaha and her husband John, Jimbo and his wife Janet, Cissie Triglia and her husband Bob, eleven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
We will be celebrating Bill Donigan’s life on Friday, September 29th at 1:00 p.m. in the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Gainesville, FL.

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