POLICEWOMAN MARILYN DONNELLY
BADGE 727, ID 1257
SDPD 07/01/1954 - 1976
10/09/1923 - 08/24/1987
THE THIN BLUE LINE
San Diego Union, The (CA) - August 28, 1987

Deceased Name: Marilyn R. Donnelly, 63; former S.D. policewoman 

Retired police officer Marilyn R. "Lynn" Donnelly, 63, the first long-term career policewoman in the San Diego Police Department, died Monday in the Kaiser Permanente Hospital.

Her career included service in the Detective Bureau, with six years in homicide; eight years with the forgery detail; and more than seven years in the juvenile division. She also worked undercover with the vice squad, often as their chief "bookie."

She lived in Allied Gardens for 38 years.

She was a former member of the officers association and also was affiliated with the Retired Fire and Police Officers Association. Mrs. Donnelly was known for never backing down in her constant effort to change policy and bring about innovations that would utilize the abilities of female officers and give them opportunities for advancement.

She was hired in 1954, but women officers were not allowed to wear police uniforms until 1971.  Lynn Donnelly helped design the first uniforms.

She had virtually no promotion possibilities, because Civil Service basic requirements for promotion included four years of service as a patrolman. Only in recent years have women been permitted to serve in the patrol capacity.

She reminisced in interviews as recently as last February about the resistance she met, not only from "males who didn't care for the idea," but from "women peace officers ... who were custodial personnel."

She said San Diego was the first department in the country to have "policewoman detectives."

Four women were hired in 1954, each required to be between 24 and 30 and have a college degree.  In addition to Police Academy training, each received special training in homicide, burglary, forgery and juvenile investigation. Mrs. Donnelly said she was considered "more dangerous" than the others because she was called a "gay divorcee." The other three were married. Within a year, one was fired, two were divorced, and she was married to fellow police officer Michael Donnelly who died in 1984.  She also worked as a volunteer at Kaiser Hospital.

In 1984, The BULLS, Benevolent Uniformed Lieutenants League, made her an honorary lieutenant of the San Diego Police Department. She is survived by her brother, retired deputy sheriff Frank D. Fowler of Allied Gardens, and her sister-in-law, Betty F. Fowler of Salt Lake City, widow of another brother, the late Floyd L. Fowler, who has been with Mrs. Donnelly this year during her illness.


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