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Obituaries » Karl W. Donaghy

Karl William Donaghy Jr. 71 of Jeffersonton, died Sunday, September 17, 2017, at Fauquier Hospital.

He was born June 1, 1946, in Wilton, N.H., to the late Karl W. Donaghy and Christine Martell Hawkins.

His family moved to Pepperell, Mass., when he was young and he attended public schools there. As an enterprising youth, he apprenticed himself to two elderly brothers who were World War I veterans and harness racing trainers. There he learned horses from the ground up, including how to shoe, and soon had a thriving farrier business. Then, upon graduating from high school, he joined the Navy.

Mr. Donaghy’s stint in the Navy took him to Southeast Asia, where he served on an experimental team of five men performing special operations. After several missions, and with a price on his head, he was captured and tortured. However, he managed to kill his guard and escape back to friendly lines. Those early teams were the precursors of the Navy SEALs.

After completing his service, he returned to the U.S. and, not knowing what else to do, he picked up his farrier’s tools and started shoeing horses and mules around the country.

Eventually, he attended Hays University in Fort Hays, Kan., and later, Lowell Institute of Technology in Lowell, Mass., after which he joined the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in Burlington, Mass., working on early space technology.

However, horses were never far from his horizon and he was given a hard-luck racehorse with hoof problems that no one could solve. Mr. Donaghy thought he could help the horse, and he did. The horse won so much money, he bought a farm. Moving his family to a 1,000-acre spread in White County, Ark., where he built his own training track, Mr. Donaghy kept more than 100 horses and raced successfully for several years. His career in breeding, training and racing Thoroughbreds took him to tracks such as Rockingham, Suffolk Downs, Monmouth, Laurel, Turfway and Louisiana Downs. However, the work and his military service had taken its toll on his health, and he was finally forced to give it up. But, he did not forget about all he had learned through the study of animal nutrition which had given his horses an edge in racing.

A chance meeting with one of the world’s most brilliant animal nutritionists, Marion Jones in Wendell, N.C., set Mr. Donaghy on his new path. Collaborating with Dr. Jones and Dr. Ed Harris, he helped develop the first nutrition balancer for horses — a science applied to hogs and cattle for 75 years. Still the premier nutrition balancer in this country, the work of these gentlemen will live on at the companies founded by Mr. Donaghy: Virginia Equine Research and Horse Sense Balanced Optimal Nutrition in Marshall.

Survivors include his wife, Andrea Morgan Donaghy; a son, Ross Donaghy of East Wareham, Mass., and three brothers, Harvey Donaghy, Paul Hawkins and Harry Hawkins of Massachusetts.

Memorial contributions may be made to Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue,
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation or Old Friends Foundation.
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