Larry Donoghue to Retire After 67 Years of Service


Larry Donoghue to Retire After 67 Years of Service

Editor’s note: On hearing of Larry Donoghue’s planned retirement, we asked him to write a few words about his life in the parking industry. Here is the result.

Larry Donoghue, a Professional Engineer and Parking Consultant with 67 years’ experience, is really going to retire on Feb. 28, 2014. He has tried, unsuccessfully, to retire several times before. However, this time it’s for real.
There, I wrote it. Why really retire this time?
It’s because all five of my children ganged up on me and held an “intervention” with me shortly after my wife of 64 years, who is 89 years old, was injured in a fall in our home while I was out of town on a four-day business trip, working on a consulting assignment a long way from our home in the Chicago area. I will be 95 in February.
Larry Jr., accompanied by his three brothers, lead the intervention with, “Dad, it isn’t fair to Mom that you don’t stay closer to home at this stage of your lives. … You have got to end your consulting work that requires travel. …”
My daughter Patti, who lives in the Philadelphia area and was in on the plot but not at the intervention, called me later that day and told me, “Dad, you are highly respected now. Go out on the top like Michael Jordan did. Don’t keep working until you might embarrass yourself.” That was the clincher. I decided to accept their advice.
A Founding Member and Past Chairman of the NPA’s Parking Consultants Council (PCC), I have been honored by the Council several times. First, by its giving me the Bernard Dutch Memorial Award for “lifetime achievement” in the parking industry. Then, by being designated as a PCC Fellow; such prestigious status is granted to members recognized as being widely respected for their past contributions to the industry. Later, I was honored to be the first PCC Member elected to its Hall of Fame. I also have served as the Consultants representative to the IPI Board of Directors and as a Member of the NPA Board of Directors.
During WWII, I served in the U.S. Navy for four years as an Engineering Officer in Naval Aviation. Part of my service was spent on an aircraft carrier in the Southwest Pacific. The carrier was hit three times by Japanese Kamikaze pilots, resulting in the deaths of 84 of the ship’s personnel and major damage to the ship. (After the war, I joined the Naval Reserves and had a total of 26 years’ service on retiring as a Captain, USNR, in 1960.)
In 1946, fresh out of the Navy, I joined the newly formed Ralph Burke Associates, an engineering, architectural and planning services firm, as Chief Planning Engineer. Its first major assignment was selection of the site for and planning and design of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. This was followed by the firm’s being selected to design the two Grant Park underground garages beneath Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.
In 1950, I became Secretary of the firm, and rose through the ranks to become its President in 1960. It provided consulting services to municipalities, parking authorities, universities, airports, developers and parking operators.
In 1992, when I was Chairman and CEO of Ralph Burke Associates, my wife told me, “You are on the road 60% of the time, and you work 60 hours a week. The candle is getting shorter. When are we going to be able to spend more time together?”
We have a good marriage. There was no way I could slow down and still serve as CEO. So I decided to resign, after having spent 46 years with the firm, and established Larry Donoghue Associates, went into semi-retirement, and cut my work down to 35 hours per week.
In 1978, I became very interested in revenue control of parking facilities. There were many newspaper stories at that time about fraud scandals in parking facilities throughout the country. I started doing a lot of research on how the fraud was being committed and what could be done to detect and minimize it.
I’m proud to say I have conducted more research into detecting and stopping fraud than any other parking consultant. I have identified more than 300 ways for fraud to be committed by patrons, cashiers, supervisors and managers in cashier-attended parking facilities. And I have uncovered 50 ways that fraud can be committed with single-space parking meters by patrons, collectors, and maintenance and counting personnel.
As time went on, many of my clients switched to automated revenue control equipment. Again, more research, and I identified 35 different types of fraud that can be perpetrated by patrons and employees in facilities with that type of equipment. I have written three audit training manuals used during seminars I conducted to train clients’ personnel in how to detect and minimize fraud in the above three types of parking operations.
One of my specialties has been the preparation of operational audits of larger parking facilities such as airports. I have done these for 58 airports in the U.S. and Canada. The very comprehensive audits usually resulted in my identifying 250 to 300 weaknesses in the revenue controls that could permit fraud to occur. The audits always included cost-effective remedies for each weakness to minimize the opportunities for fraud.
After really retiring this time, I still have to keep active and have decided to plan on devoting about 20 hours per week in volunteer work with people in nursing homes or who are housebound. I’m going to act as a “personal shopper” for them, and I also will visit with those residents who don’t seem to have any visitors.
Editor’s note: Larry Donoghue, one of only three designated NPA Parking Consultants Council Fellows – with Carl Walker and Don Monahan – can be contacted at

Article contributed by:
Ken Jones
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