Donovan calls it a career after 38 years in Worthington

Recently retired financial advisor Kevin Donovan stands near his dock along the shoreline of Worthington's Lake Okabena. (Ryan McGaughey/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Thirty-eight years ago, Kevin Donovan hadn’t even been to Worthington.

“I came here in 1982 to go to work for IDS (Investors Diversified Services),” recalled Donovan last week while relaxing in the Moon Circle home he shares with wife LeAnn. “I was in Mankato and just sold my Hobie Cat sailboat and didn’t even know there was a lake in the middle of town.

“My buddy and I flipped a coin — we had Pipestone and Worthington,” he continued. “We flipped a coin and I won, and I chose Worthington because of the assets that were in the banks, and I knew there was a lot of farm money here. The first thing I did was buy the building I was in … that was my beginning.”

Donovan is now enjoying another beginning of sorts, as he recently retired from Ameriprise Financial Services (formerly IDS) after a nearly four-decade career. He still keeps himself busy, though, as he remains involved in the development of a long-anticipated movie theater in Worthington.

Donovan, who grew up in Austin, has never been afraid to hit the ground running. That’s the approach he took when moving to Worthington 38 years ago.


“I remember moving into a one-room efficiency apartment called the Bass Apartments. … It was literally one room with a Murphy bed,” he said. “All I did was work; I went around and knocked on doors. I drove around and looked for harvesters, because I figured those farmers had money.

“I also got involved in things right away,” he continued. “I eventually was president of Jaycees, president of the Optimists and got involved in the Big Brother program. … I got involved in the Chamber and met Darlene (Macklin, executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce); she also came here in 1982. I got involved in the community and loved it.”

Donovan soon found success in his financial management career and progressed into management, where he provided training to individuals in multiple towns around southwest Minnesota. He did that for about 15 years, and then “got smart and got out of management.”

For the last 15 years, Donovan worked independently, most recently with Legacy Financial Partners, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise. He noted his work afforded him the opportunity to travel and meet great people — many with whom he maintains friendships — but is now “immensely” enjoying retirement.

“I’ve got a lot of projects that I'm working on,” he said. “I just finished a complete restoration of my office building (on Third Avenue, which he continues to own); I gutted that down to the walls. We’re going to do an open house and retirement thing sometime when this COVID lifts.

“I’m doing things around the house — I’m going to re-side the house and do a lot of other things. I bought a couple of new vehicles.”

Donovan and his wife bought their current home in 1995; it was the second home he’d purchased in Worthington.

“After living in Bass Apartments, I moved in with Mark Ring — he lived over on Driftwood — and from there I bought a house on Olander Street,” he remembered. “I bought that house when I was still single, and then I dated LeAnn and we got married in 1986. We lived there as a married couple from ’86 to ’95.


“I told LeAnn when we got married, ‘We will live on the lake within 10 years.’ I made it by one month.”

In addition to life by the lake, the Donovans’ marriage also resulted in an opportunity to open a restaurant in Worthington.

“Bill and Judy Rieckhoff and Jim Rieckhoff and his wife, they lived in Indiana and they owned the Holiday Inn Express (in Worthington),” Donovan detailed. “They built it, and my wife started managing it before it was even built — she had worked at the old Holiday Inn, and they hired her to open the new one.

“My wife got this award for managing the top Holiday Inn Express in the country, and we were in Atlanta at their home office for a big conference. That’s where I met and talked with the Rieckhoffs. A lot of what we had in Worthington at the time was fine dining at Michael’s and fast-food service … so that’s how the Ground Round here got started.

The Rieckhoffs and I started it and a year after it was open, the corporation filed bankruptcy, so now we were on our own,” he added. “After a year, I sold our interest back to the Rieckhoffs and got out. Later, we were well-heeled selling out of the Ground Round because of the bankruptcy settlement.”

Another investment for Donovan has been the city’s movie theater project, which came about during his tenure on the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors.

“I was very involved with Abraham (Algadi, former WREDC executive director) luring Brian Pellowski here to get that done, but it just didn’t work out with the city,” Donovan said. “That's when I met Todd Frager (who had operated the theater at Worthington’s Northland Mall). “We’ve just kept hanging in there. … The city owns it, and we’re going to be leasing it and putting $1 million into it before opening, We’re now hoping for an October opening.”

In between now and October — not to mention this coming winter — Donovan figures to find plenty of time for family and friends.


“We have six grandchildren — they’re down in Sioux City,” he said. “Nicolle (daughter) is married to Cory, and they have a construction business in Akron, Iowa that’s one of biggest builders in Sioux City. Angela (daughter) married Brian Drent, and Angela got her masters and works for the State of Iowa in the Health Department. Brian is the head girls basketball coach at East High School. He's only been doing it for a couple of years and just took them to state; my granddaughter started on the team as a sophomore.”

As for when the cold weather hits, the Donovans are still firming up their plans.

“We’re deciding where we want to winter and want to go somewhere different each year,” he said. “We’re thinking of maybe Fort Myers Beach, Florida if this COVID lifts; otherwise maybe we’ll be here this winter.

“Our very good friend, Mary Monthei, will be joining us, too. Kelly (Mary’s late husband) was my golf partner for 32 years. We were best friends and Mary and LeAnn are best friends and we took many trips together.”

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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