Name: Nathan Donsky (1906-1992)
Historical Note: Nathan Donsky was born in Dallas, Texas on June 6, 1906, the sixth of the ten children of Jacob and Gittle Gussie Shapiro Donsky. Mr. Donsky had moved to Dallas in 1895, and was in the grocery business. Nathan began selling newspapers and working concessions at baseball and football games at a young age. He graduated from Forest Avenue High School in Dallas in 1925 and attended business college. He quit selling for a time to serve as private secretary to Col. Alvin Owsley, who had just retired as national commander of the American Legion and later was U.S. foreign minister to Romania. In 1927 Donsky moved to San Angelo, Texas, and operated concessions at baseball and football games, the race tracks and at wrestling matches and rodeos. He also operated concessions at Brady, Mason, Ozona and Menard. In 1929, with the start of the Great Depression, the West Texas (baseball) League broke up and Donsky went broke. He worked for a short time in Forsan, working in the oil fields for $40 per week. In 1930, Donsky had been headed back to a job in Dallas when he stopped in San Angelo to say goodbye to friends. He was offered a partnership in a small pawn shop, and stayed. In 1938 he opened Nathan's Jewelers at Chadbourne Street and Twohig Avenue. Other Nathan's locations later opened in Brownwood, Paris, Texas, and several other West Texas cities. With the help of his brother Abe “Honey” Donsky, Nathan’s Jewelers expanded to six locations in Texas towns, and his family had interests in jewelry stores all over Texas. According to legend, during this time, Abe was held up by Bonnie and Clyde. In 1939, at a New Year’s party, he met Sylvia Frankrich of Fort Worth. They married less than a month later, and over the course of their 53 year marriage had 2 children. As a successful businessman, Nathan turned to philanthropy, and became known for his philanthropic works. He served as head of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, and was elected the city’s Citizen of the Year in 1978, as well as sitting on the boards of numerous business and financial institutions and the former St. John's Hospital. With his wife they supported numerous causes, including The Kidney Foundation of Texas, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children, West Texas Rehabilitation Center, St John's Hospital of San Angelo, West Texas Boy's Ranch, Jewish Welfare Federation, 4-H Clubs of Texas, and Meals on Wheels of San Angelo. In addition, they established the Nathan and Sylvia Donsky Foundation that provides scholarships for 10 students each year at Angelo State University. An article posted references an earlier article on Nathan, which starts with a quote from Nathan: “My philosophy of life is that if you help people without expecting anything in return, you will be rewarded. It is true that if you cast your bread on the water it will come back tenfold.” It then goes on to list some of his acts of generosity: “Donsky sponsored many Little League teams and was active in 4-H and FFA. He was director of the Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation, an honorary state farmer of FFA. He was a longtime supporter of San Angelo high schools and college sports, awarding trophies annually to the players and teams. As a member of the St. John's Hospital board, Donsky served as chairman of the 1968 fund drive that added a wing to the hospital. Donsky also was a director of the Board of City Development and the San Angelo Stock Show. He was a charter member of the Suez Shrine Temple and a member of Masonic Lodge 1260 in San Angelo. In 1980, for a celebration of his 50th year of business in San Angelo, Donsky gave a number of gifts to schools and institutions. He added $50,000 to an Angelo State University scholarship endowment fund, donated a new pickup to the West Texas Boys Ranch and provided a specially equipped bus for the West Texas Rehabilitation Center. He also purchased electronic scoreboards for 20 area school districts. He provided gifts for the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, Lighthouse for the Blind, San Angelo Center at Carlsbad, the Salvation Army, Friends of the Library, the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, Alcoholics Anonymous and more. In 1978 he was named chairman of the West Texas campaign for the Kidney Foundation of Texas annual fundraising drive for the second year in a row. Donsky also personally purchased a dialysis machine and various equipment for the Children's Medical Center in Dallas. He and his wife donated equipment to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Dallas.” Nathan Donsky passed away on June 4, 1992, in Dallas, Texas.
Records or Manuscript Collections Created by Nathan Donsky