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Mitch Donovan, 74

Retired Victor Chamber of Commerce president talks about career, trading cards, trust and family

By Melody Burri

Q: Of your many career accomplishments, which has been the most fulfilling?

A: I was fortunate to have two careers. One in newspaper advertising and one working for the Victor Chamber of Commerce. While I fondly remember helping retail clients market their businesses, my chamber work was more gratifying. One annual project sticks in my mind: Hang Around Victor Day. It was more work than I ever imagined, but building that into what it became was the most fulfilling part of the job. It reached so many people on so many levels that the memories still stay with me. Kitty Van Bortel told me she remembers when ‘Hang Around Victor Day’ was just two tents on Main Street. Over those 10 years, we came a long, long way.

Q: What hobbies and passions are giving you joy these days?

A: As the retirement calculator on my phone counted down the days to retirement, I got some sage advice from my wife, Rebecca. She suggested that going from 50 hours a week at the chamber down to zero might be a shock to my system. So I resurrected a hobby from my youth and started a trading card business online and I sell at area trading card shows. I also got involved as a volunteer with the Victor Farmington Library and still do some volunteering at the Ontario County Chamber of Commerce.

Q: How has your own life changed since retiring?

A: I have more time on my hands but it’s easy to fill. The big change is that I get to be more selective about what I spend my time doing.

Q: What was one unexpected challenge you encountered, and how are you handling it?

A: I thought I’d get to nap a lot. But nope, I’m having too much fun! Let’s see: take a nap or play with the grandkids? It’s no contest.

Q: What advice would you give to others about thriving in retirement?

A: A couple years after I retired, my wife did, too. We both agree that retiring at different times was helpful for us. It may be for others as well, if that choice is available. Also, I didn’t think much about saving and planning for retirement when I was early in my career. But, eventually working with a professional to plan our retirement helped a great deal. People keep asking me if I like my new lifestyle and of course, the answer is yes.

Q: What’s one core value that has served you well through your career and into retirement?

A: It’s all about trust. I trust the people around me and they trust me. I think I got that right.

Q: What’s one dream you have for your community and the people and businesses in it?

A: There’s always room for growth and improvement. I’m not done growing as a person and Victor isn’t done growing as a community. Change can be uncomfortable and that’s OK. So let’s explore some exciting opportunities.

Top image: Mitch Donovan grew up in Canandaigua and spent as much time as he could on the lake. He believes living in Victor gives him all the advantages of a small town with proximity to a larger city. He said his wife, Rebecca, and their families are the most enjoyable and important parts of his life.