Published: December 5, 2006
Donald J. McInnis, 89, of Stuart, Fla., formerly of the New Hampshire seacoast area and Nashua, died Friday, November 24, at the Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
He was born in Somerville, Mass., on October 1, 1917, the son of Allan D. and Julia (Lewis) McInnis. He was raised in Somerville, attended local schools and was a veteran of World War II, serving with the US Army Air Corps.
Donald was the ultimate entrepreneur. In the 1960s, prior to his career in the antiques business, he owned and operated the former McInnis Motors, a Mercedes-Volvo and Jeep dealership in Nashua, and before that in the 1950s, he owned and operated five Monarch Diners in Arlington, Billerica, Woburn, and Saugus, Mass., and Dover, N.H.
In 1970, he founded McInnis Antiques in New Hampshire’s seacoast region, having shops at different times in North Hampton, Hampton Falls and Seabrook, which he operated until his retirement in 1980. From the antiques business he founded, his family has succeeded an Oriental rug business and auctioneer and antiques dealerships that operate today. Donald continued to buy and sell antiques on a part-time basis, right up until he passed away.
Donald would have liked to been remembered as a “Dealer’s Dealer.” Wholesale was his passion; however, retail customers often caught him open at his barn in Seabrook. An avid hockey fan, in his early years he practiced on the ice with the Boston Bruins. During the late 1970s, Terry O’Reilly, a former Boston Bruin and antiques collector, would spend hours in the barn with Donald reminiscing about hockey facts and antiques.
Throughout his career he was also a show dealer. For years he shared booth space with Robert Webber at the Brimfield Antiques Market. He also set up at shows in Florida, including the Miami Beach Convention Center.
His love for antiques and auctions was unparalleled and never ended. Upon his retirement, from October through May he scouted dealers and auctioneers from Fort Lauderdale to Vero Beach, Fla.
“We loved Donald,” said Ron Rennick of Auction Center Galleries in Vero Beach. “It was always a pleasure to see him come through the door.” From June through September Donald continually attended auctions throughout Maine and New Hampshire.
The first spin-off was his son, Paul, who took over a former antiques shop on Route 1 in North Hampton in 1974, where Paul started one of the first antiques centers in New England. He went on to start his career as an auctioneer in 1976. Now in his 30th year in the auction business, Paul operates from North Hampton with his wife, Priscilla, and son Christopher, conducting all types of real estate and estate auctions. Their son Philip is a senior at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and their daughter, Julia, is a freshman at the University of New Hampshire.
The original antiques shop Donald started was named for his son David, who eventually became an expert in Oriental rugs. David has traveled the world buying and studying rugs. Today he operates an Oriental rug gallery on Route 1 in Hampton Falls where his three children, Bobby, Lisa and Maeve, have assisted him over the last several years. Bobby also worked with Donald in the early years, before moving out west with his family, settling in Hawaii and then California.
Donald’s daughter, Barbara Bourgeois, worked for him as well as Paul and John in the early years, and she caught the antiques bug. She has been a dealer ever since and exhibits at many important shows and group shops. She is well-known for her keen eye for quality items, often selling for a short profit. Barbara puts on more than 50,000 miles a year going from antiques shops and auctions day in and day out. Her husband, Craig, who could often be found with Donald scouring antiques shops and auctions, has a very active eBay presence. Their son, Mathew, is a skilled, licensed auctioneer as well.
John McInnis worked with his father until he retired in 1980 and continued with antiques and auctions in Seabrook and the Boston North Shore area. Today he operates from Amesbury, where his auction gallery is located. John’s wife Kathy and their three teenage children, Jonathan, Kali and Joseph, continue the family tradition of working and being seen at the auctions, with his youngest son, Joseph, entertaining the audience. It is not uncommon to see any one of John’s nieces or nephews also helping out in all aspects of the auction process, from absentee to phone bidding, even auctioning.
Donald’s daughter, Maureen Boyd, and her husband, John, also operate an auction business from their base in Eliot, Maine. They run monthly auctions of items drawn from local estates. Their three children, Heather, Colin and John, were also brought up working in the business. Today Maureen’s daughter, Heather, a graduate of Bowdoin, works at Sotheby’s in New York City.
His youngest daughter, Nancy Jones, also has the bug and buys antiques and sells them on eBay. She was also Donald’s outlet store for the last few years on eBay. They did the West Palm Beach show together for many years.
His other children, Mary E. Sloan of Wells, Maine, and Donald J. McInnis Jr of Bedford, Mass., have had successful careers in the computer and medical fields.
He shared 65 years of marriage with his wife, Mary J. (Harhen) McInnis of Stuart. The mother of ten children, Mary was very supportive of her husband’s and her children’s ventures in the field of antiques and auctions.
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