Sensei Donovan Philip Waite passed away on February 22, 2021. Funeral services were held on Saturday, March 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, USA. Our dear Donovan, friend and teacher, who felt at home at Ren Shin Kan, was found dead in his Philadelphia flat. I would like to pay a small tribute to him with these few lines. Donovan was one of those comets that light up the sky with a unique and incomparable light but that unfortunately disappear much too soon for us to be able to perceive all their mysteries. He was this gifted aikido practitioner, a real one, not one of those who have some facilities, but one of those who mark an era. He was a caring, patient and generous teacher. He had created a unique style of both teaching and practice. He was unclassifiable if not in the category he himself had forged. Donovan did Donovan and his first name alone was enough to create an image, one of exceptional openness and formidable power. An aikido that seduced all those who were brought to meet him. In his art, one could find the influence of the great masters who had marked him (Yamada Sensei, Chiba Sensei, Sugano Sensei) but also those of masters who were more contemporary to him (Osawa Sensei, Miyamoto Sensei,...) without forgetting, obviously, the influence of the second and third Doshu. But he had this capacity of synthesis and transformation which created something new and fresh. With great humility and profound kindness, he warmly evoked his alter egos (such as Claude Berthiaume Sensei) and asked for news of great masters he admired and whom he would have liked to meet more personally (such as Christian Tissier Sensei). Donovan Waite Sensei was the stuff of the greats, I know I am not the only one to think so. He still had a lot to say and to explore.
Donovan, dear Sensei, I first met you 22 years ago in New York. A reputation preceded you. I had never seen your face before but when I saw you moving around on the tatami at a Yamada Sensei class, I knew immediately. I asked my partner: "Is this guy Donovan ?" because I could see, in motion, what I had been told was an urban legend. I had for answer : "Yes, he's terrific, isn't he ? Great, you certainly were, but you were also this friend full of humor, self-deprecation, a lover of cinema and good beers that you had imported to Philadelphia after having tasted them in Brussels ; we laughed to tears, we found ourselves with our throats tightened by the evocation of memories; you loved good food, you loved life and you concentrated the ki - if it exists - like an atomic bomb. You had to leave in a hurry, without having had time to say goodbye. You've been called elsewhere, I hope you are feeling well there.