Roberta G. Donovan

Face of Gosman’s Dock, Oct. 31, 1932 - May 10, 2018
Roberta G. Donovan, Oct. 31, 1932 - May 10, 2018

Roberta Gosman Donovan, a vibrant and vital figure at Gosman’s Restaurant in Montauk for more than 50 years and a former member of the East Hampton Town Planning Board, died at home in Montauk last Thursday. The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mrs. Gosman Donovan, who was 85, had previously endured a long bout with cancer.

As the face of Gosman’s Dock, she was unfailingly gracious to the public, her family said, and was equally sensitive and supportive to the large work force that staffed Gosman’s Restaurant year after year.

Managing difficult situations was second nature to her, said her brother, John Gosman of Montauk. In one incident, “A guy came in with a tire iron, convinced that one of our bartenders was seeing his wife. Our employee was using a swordfish bill to defend himself. Roberta coolly and quickly dispatched two local fishermen to escort the man out the door.” 

Roberta Gosman was born in Amagansett to Robert Gosman and the former Mary Harrington at the couple’s house on Abram’s Landing Road, which was then called Devon Road, on Oct. 31, 1932. The eldest of six children, all of whom were born in the same house, she graduated from East Hampton High School in 1950 before attending Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pa. She continued her studies in Switzerland, at the University of Fribourg, in 1954.

She was an enthusiastic traveler, her family said, visiting all seven continents and studiously logging many of her trips. “My earliest memories are of Roberta visiting our house, often after she had taken an international trip, and bringing us gifts and telling stories about whatever exotic place she had visited,” her niece Diane Marsella of Superior, Colo., said. “Roberta loved to travel in the off-season and continued to enjoy her group trips as long as her health allowed it.” 

She donated her time and energy to many causes, including Music for Montauk and Concerned Citizens of Montauk. She served on the planning board for seven years.

In 1978, she married Cornelius Donovan. Mr. Donovan died in 1986. 

For many years, she lived in the house at 153 Deforest Road in the Montauk Association, one of the Seven Sisters designed in the late 19th century by the noted firm McKim, Mead, and White. 

Along with John Gosman, three other brothers survive. They are Emmett Gosman, William Gosman, and Richard Gosman, all of Montauk. Misha Ferman of Montauk, her partner of more than 20 years, also survives, as do 11 nieces and nephews. Another brother, Hubert Gosman, died before her. 

Visiting hours were on Monday at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. A funeral Mass was said on Tuesday at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Montauk, the Rev. Thomas Murray officiating. Burial followed at Fort Hill Cemetery, also in Montauk.

Mrs. Gosman Donovan’s family has suggested memorial contributions to Music for Montauk, P.O. Box 846, Montauk 11954 or the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation, P.O. Box 1612, Montauk.