John Y. Donaldson, M.D.

John Y. Donaldson, MD

March 26, 1940 – October 30, 2020


Dr. John Y. Donaldson was a native of Lincoln, NE. An award-winning psychiatrist, John’s life was focused on helping others.

Dr. Donaldson became an Eagle Scout at the age of 14, was a National Merit semi-finalist and a senior class speaker for the Lincoln High class of 1958. He attended Harvard University (1958-60), graduated from UNL in 1963, and in 1966 graduated from UNMC, where he received an award from the National Foundation for best senior thesis. He interned at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln (1966-67) and was trained in both general and child psychiatry at UNMC (1967-71). He served as the Director of Child and Adolescent Services at the Lincoln Regional Center, where he became President of the medical staff in 1972.

Interested in research, he accepted appointments as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UNMC and Director of Children’s Services at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute. In 1977, he was promoted to Associate Professor and became the Director of Child and Adolescent Services at NPI, continuing in that role until entering private practice in 1980. While at NPI, he trained child psychiatrists as well as many general psychiatry residents in child psychiatry. He continued as a volunteer faculty member as an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry until his retirement.

Throughout his career, he treated thousands of patients, first children and later also adults. While in private practice, he served on the staff at Immanuel Medical Center and later at the Richard Young Hospital. He served as Department Chair (Methodist Richard Young), President of the Medical Staff, and later Medical Director of the Richard Young Center. He continued his private practice until 2008.

For over 20 years, Dr. Donaldson regularly served patients at the Montclair Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and at QLI in a consulting role. He was active in the Nebraska Psychiatric Society for over 40 years, where he served at various times as Continuing Education Chairman, President, Insurance Chair, Ethics Chair, Representative to the Assembly of District Branches, and Treasurer. Since 1980, he was active in the Chi Club, the Alumni Association of the Phi Chi Medical Fraternity, where he served as President in the early 1980s and Treasurer (1991-2019).

In 2014, Dr. Donaldson received the prestigious Frank J. Menolascino Award from the American Psychiatric Association for his years of service to the cognitively impaired. He was also awarded the Nebraska Psychiatric Society Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, QLI presented him the Award of Excellence for dedication to protecting dignity, instilling purpose, and creating hope for the individuals and families served.

He is survived by his loving wife, Linda, stepbrother Jim Lincoln, and children, Shannon (David), Anders (Emelia), Mike, and Sara (Michael), and seven grandchildren, Madison, Lillian, and Owen (Shannon), and Espen, Barrett, Ruby and Lila (Anders).

Dr. Donaldson’s legacy will live on through his family, his colleagues, his friends, and his thousands of patients.

“Our souls were one, if you must know and never shall they be apart. With splendid dawn, your face aglow, I reach for you and find my heart.” ~ Unknown.

A private family service will be held at the West Center Chapel of Heafey-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler.  In lieu of flowers, suggested memorials include the University of Nebraska Foundation, QLI, the Chi Club, or the Parkinson’s Foundation.


  • Gerry Masimore Posted November 1, 2020 2:57 pm

    Linda, so sorry to ready about John in the paper today. I feel your loss having lost Ken on the 22. Please know I am keeping you and your family in my prayers. All my love Gerry

  • Yolanda Jimenez Posted November 1, 2020 7:03 pm

    My deepest sorrow to the Donaldson family for your loss. I worked with Dr. Donaldson at Richard Young Center. He was such great support during many difficult times. He will be missed. God bless.

  • Ernest and Yolanda Celedon Posted November 1, 2020 9:13 pm

    Linda and family, we are so sorry for your loss. We will remember John as a very kind man. May he Rest In Peace and May God comfort you and give you peace.

  • Susan Michaelis Posted November 1, 2020 10:34 pm

    I am a friend of Mike’s from DFW. . I worked with Mike at Wells Fargo and always talked so fondly about his family. Our deepest sympathy from my family to Mike and his family during this difficult time. Mike has a lot of friends here in DFW that are so sorry and praying for y’all.

  • John Burns Posted November 2, 2020 1:07 am

    Linda, Our Heartfelt Condolences from our family to yours.

  • Klaus Hartmann Posted November 2, 2020 6:37 am

    Through the obituary in the paper, we learned of John’s passing. Our deepest sympathy to the family. My wife and I had the pleasure of getting to know John and Linda more in recent years though I knew and learned to respect John since my early days of my psychiatric residency training at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute. His love for medicine and his depth of knowledge remained visible throughout his retirement. In particular, I enjoyed hearing his stories about his years of work at the Lincoln Regional Center preceding my employment there. I will always remember him fondly and am grateful having got to know him better in recent years. Our thoughts are with his family.

  • Martin Wetzel Posted November 2, 2020 10:02 am

    My condolences to John’s family and loved ones. When I arrived in Omaha in 1992 and began working at Richard Young, John and I frequently would eat lunch together in the lounge. I treasure the memories of John regaling me with clinical pearls, biochemical hypotheses, historical insights of psychiatry in Omaha, personal life lessons, stock tips, and—my favorite—the most recent gossip. He was a model of professionalism and service—so many patients and psychiatrists have benefited from his life. I am thankful for the time I spent with him and send my sincere sympathy to you all.

  • Nancy Ishmael Posted November 2, 2020 2:10 pm

    Dearest Linda, my childhood best friend and high school classmate, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet John several years ago when you visited your KY home town, Mt. Sterling. My heart grieves for you and your family. You know it will soon be three years since Chili passed on and I think of him every day. It is not easy but God is providing strength. Always know I treasure our friendship and I am so sorry for this loss. Nancy

  • Vicki McCoy Jensen Posted November 2, 2020 9:34 pm

    Linda and family,
    My deepest condolences to you and your family. Dr. Donaldson was one of a kind. I am so glad to have known him and will remember him for all he has done. The world lost a great person. May he rest peacefully.

  • Anne Conway Posted November 3, 2020 8:07 am

    Linda, Shannon, David, Madison, Sara – my heartfelt condolences to all of you. John was very helpful to my son Nick in those volatile middle-school years. Shannon and David – as we watched our kids grow up together, Linda and John were at every concert, carnival, show choir performance, etc. Parkinson’s is a terrible disease. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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