Donald Seawell, Founder of DCPA, died at 103

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Donald R. Seawell, born on August 1, 1912 and died September 30, 2015, Donald was born in Jonesboro, North Carolina.

His father was Aaron A. F. Seawell, a Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Donald graduated from the University of North Carolina, and UNC Law School.

In 1941 he married Broadway actress, Eugenia Rawls, who played Tallulah Bankhead’s daughter in The Little Foxes.

They had two children. In August 2012, Donald turned 100.

Donald was hired to work at the Securities and Exchange Commission by the newly appointed head of the organization, Joseph P. Kennedy. Kennedy had heard Donald Seawell’s unflattering comment about him on the radio, where the young lawyer said, “It takes a thief to catch a thief”.

Note to original text: This quote is widely and unconditionally attributed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who knew Joseph Kennedy personally and appointed him to the SEC citing this reason.

He was impressed by Donald’s candor, if not his character assessment, and wanted him on his team.

During World War II, Donald Seawell worked on General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s SHAEF staff in counterintelligence.

After the war, he served briefly as assistant Ambassador to France.

Entering private law practice in New York, he gathered many theatrical clients including, Tallulah Bankhead, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

He also maintained law offices in London and Tel Aviv, and was involved in writing the charter for the State of Israel.

Donald’s theatrical clients led to his becoming a Broadway producer, and his shows included: Noël Coward’s Sail Away, The Affair, and A Thurber Carnival. He was the first producer to bring the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) to the United States in a 1962 production of The Hollow Crown.

He later became a Governor of the RSC as well as Chairman of the American National Theatre and Academy.

In 2002 he was awarded the honorary title, Order of the British Empire (OBE), by Queen Elizabeth II.

Donald was one of three producers of Bonard Productions, the others being the actress Haila Stoddard, and The Denver Post owner Helen Bonfils.

In the 1960s he joined forces with Ms. Bonfils to become Secretary-Treasurer of the Denver Post.

After Helen Bonfils’ death, he became Publisher of the paper.

Using funds from the Bonfils Foundation, he created The Denver Center for the Performing Arts in the late 1970s.

Donald retired as active chairman of the center in 2007 at the age of 94.

Donald Seawell died at age 103 on September 30, 2015.

 

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