Remembering John “Juancho” Donahue, 10 years later

Executive Director Ed Shurna writes in remembrance of our late executive director, John “Juancho” Donahue.

Ed’s essay is the first of daily essays by staff, interns and volunteers who write about what inspires their work at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, as we mark National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week. The event is organized by the National Coalition for the Homeless, on which Ed serves as board member.


Juancho vive, la lucha sigue.

Juancho lives and the struggle continues.

Ten years ago this Sunday, November 17, we commemorate the passing of Juancho Donahue, father, friend, colleague, warrior for justice. 

John raises his fist at a CCH protest for low-income housing
John raises his fist at a CCH protest for low-income housing

Ten years ago, I was privileged to deliver a eulogy at Juancho’s funeral. There were well over 2,000 people present at the church, along with TV cameras and a march down the street, with the coffin, from the funeral parlor to the church.

It was Juancho’s last demonstration and march.

I ended the eulogy by repeating the phrase above, “Juancho vive, la lucha sigue,” followed by “Juancho lives and the struggle continues.”  Everyone in the church rose in unison to chant these words.We all stood and celebrated. The spirit of hope and love filled the church and spilled out onto the street.

These words are timeless.  They are as meaningful today as they were then.  Juancho lives in our hearts and hopes and struggles.  On Sunday, raise a toast to a powerful man and join us as we proclaim, “Juancho vive, la lucha sigue. Juancho lives, and the struggle continues.”

Articles about Juancho’s life and work, including some published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader and Shelterforce magazine, are posted on the CCH website.

 Juancho is also profiled in Studs Terkel’s book, Hope Dies Last (2003). MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA