TOMS RIVER – Donato “Dan” D’Onofrio, was remembered not just for creating Spirits Unlimited and owning local shopping centers, but for giving back to his community and helping other businesses grow. He passed away on February 1 at the age of 95.
Born in New York City, D’Onofrio moved to Ocean County after serving as a Marine. His first business outing was starting a tavern in Lakehurst in 1950. He later started Spirits Unlimited, where he helped friends and business associates become entrepreneurs themselves, according to his obituary.
In his passing, friends and loved ones recalled his business savvy, and his willingness to teach his skills to others, helping them become self-sufficient business owners.
Starting in the mid-1970s, his eye turned to commercial real estate and he bought and developed several notable shopping centers, strip malls, marinas, and office complexes in the Ocean County area. He has owned and operated several local restaurants.
D’Onofrio served as a former Director of Commerce Bank and was a member of the Toms River Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Elks, American Legion, and the Italian American Club.
His philanthropy was not as publicized as his businesses. He had been the annual host for the Ocean County Unit of the American Cancer Society; was recognized as a Gold Keel Club member of the United Way; had provided several perpetual student scholarships for students of Ocean County, and had adopted six children under the Christian Children’s Program.
He has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including the State of New Jersey General Assembly 20th Annual Good Scout Award, Toms River Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year, Rotary Club “Paul Harris Fellow Award” and inductee into the “Pierce & Doan Society,” Columbus Day Parade Grand Marshall, St. Joseph’s Century Club Man of the Year and, Toms River School District Businessman of the Year and Distinguished Citizen of the Jersey Shore Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
He is predeceased by his wife, Mary Battilla. He leaves behind two sons, Donato II, known as DJ, and Steven; and six grandchildren: Danielle, Stephanie, Marielle, Margaux, MaryMichael and Stephen.
Services will be private. Condolences can be made by visiting andersonandcampbell.com.