Marion O'Brian Donovan was born October 15, 1917 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She was familiar with the process of invention, being the daughter and niece of 2 brothers who combined talents to develop a metal lathe used for producing automotive gears and gun barrels.
She attained a B.A. in English from Rosemont College in 1939 and briefly worked for both Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. She was wed to James F. Donovan in 1942. The couple took up residence in Westport, Connecticut.
She was a housewife and mother of 2 children following World War II, frustrated at the never ending task of changing diapers and laundering soiled sheets. Her inventive bent came forward and she developed a waterproof diaper cover called a 'boater'. She eventually pioneered the creation of the first truly disposable diaper, though she failed in her attempts to sell it to industry. It was a decade later when Victor Mills used her ideas to produce Pampers®, a name which has become synonymous with disposable diapers.
Though she was the holder of 4 patents related to her disposable diapers, she wasn't through. Her patents totaled 20, including a 2 ply dental floss product she named the DentaLoop, a combined check/record keeping system she called The Ledger Check, and the Zippity-do, an elasticized zipper pull. Her focus remained in helping create items for the home, personal care and hygiene.
Always an avid learner, Marion returned to school and recieved a Masters degree in Architecture from Yale University in 1958, one of only 3 women in her graduating class. Her skills weren't only in envisioning new products, but also manifested in their design, manufacture, and marketing. She, along with her second husband John Butler were active in all phases of her products and their promotion.
Marion Donovan was the mother of 3 children. Her daughters were Christine Donovan and Sharon Donovan Dodd. Her son was Dr. James F. Donovan, Jr.
Marion Donovan died on November 4, 1998.