Long-time Getabout driver Thomas Donovan, a favorite of hundreds of Getabout clients over the years, is retiring at the end of the month to relocate to Vermont.

"Tom is a unique individual -- hard-working, with a stellar safety record, and a personality that made him a true friend to hundreds of Getabout clients, for almost a decade," Getabout President Bob Witt said. Donovan and his wife Patricia are moving to Burlington at the end of March to be near two of their children and several of their many grandchildren.

Donovan, formerly owner of Tom Donovan Heating & Cooling in town, first started driving for Getabout on a part-time basis in early 2002, and after retiring from the HVAC business in 2005, moved to full-time status with the New Canaan transportation service for seniors and other transportation-challenged residents.

"Although retired, I wanted to stay active in the community, and have a chance to pay something back to the town I've lived in for 30 years," he said.

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A native of Long Island, Donovan first moved to Connecticut in 1970 to Greenwich, before relocating to New Canaan in 1977 and setting up his HVAC company, working both for his own clients and as a subcontractor for local fuel oil suppliers such as Hoffman and Standard Oil. He spent the first part of his career working on equipment a bit larger than condensers and oil burners--as a rigger and foreman with Chicago Bridge & Iron. There, he worked on major construction sites in the Chicago area and New Jersey, and even spent two years in British Guiana in South America on a major project.

He holds a pilots license, and still flies his son's Cherokee 100 from time to time, hangered in upstate Vermont.

"So driving Getabout's vans or minivans isn't quite as exciting, but just as rewarding," Donovan said, "For the many friends I've made over the years, and my small role in helping New Canaan seniors maintain active, vital lives in this wonderful community."

"Tom will really be missed around town, as a friend and as a professional, and the fact that he always `went the extra mile' for Getabout clients -- literally," Getabout Board member and Operations Co-Chairman Paul Stein said.

Getabout is a public-private partnership providing on-call van-based transportation to New Canaan residents, on a day-in-advance reservation basis. With a fleet of two wheelchair-accessible multi-passenger vans and two mini-vans, Getabout provides over 10,000 individual rides to area residents each year, at a flat one-way rate of $3 within New Canaan.

Getabout also offers no-fee non-emergency rides, with 24-hour advance reservations, to medical offices in New Canaan, and to hospital and medical offices in neighboring Stamford, Norwalk, Darien and Wilton.

Although funded in part by the Town of New Canaan and the New Canaan Community Foundation, Getabout, a 501C charitable organization, relies primarily on private contributions to defray the actual $16 cost of each ride and $30 each way to neighboring towns costs that have risen sharply in recent years due to energy prices.

Transportation is available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 203-972-RIDE.