Arthur Adonel Mendonsa, Jr. papers
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Arthur Adonel Mendonsa, Jr. papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Mendonsa, Arthur Adonel, 1928-1999.
Title: Arthur Adonel Mendonsa, Jr. papers
Dates: 1915-2000
Extent: 15.75 cubic feet (18 boxes)
Identification: MS 1772

Biographical/Historical Note

Arthur Adonel “Don” Mendonsa was born on April 5, 1928. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University in 1952 and his Master of City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1954. Mendonsa was among four other students in the first graduating class of the Georgia Institute of Technology graduate program in City and Regional Planning. His thesis was entitled, "The Application of Selected Sociological Concepts to City Planning."

Mendonsa served as the first Director of City Planning for the Gainesville-Hall County Planning Board in Georgia from 1954-1960. During his tenure this area was substantially altered by the construction of Lake Lanier. During 1956-1957 he also served as a planner for Charleston County, South Carolina.

In 1960, Mendonsa became the Executive Director of the Savannah-Chatham County, Georgia, Planning Commission. He served in this position until 1962 when he began his tenure as City Manager for the City of Savannah. Mendonsa served as City Manager from 1962-1967 and 1971-1995. In 1987, he directed the preparation of a successful proposal to obtain a $10 million grant from The Annie E. Casey Foundation to address the school performance, teenage pregnancy, and unemployment problems of at-risk youth. This program continues approximately twenty years later as the Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority. As City Manager Mendonsa also founded the City of Savannah Research Library and Municipal Archives in the late 1970s to serve the library information needs of City of Savannah employees.

In addition, Mendonsa served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the DeKalb County Board of Commissions, 1969-1971, and as an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Government, University of Georgia, 1967-1969. During 1974-1975 he served as President of the Georgia City-County Manager’s Association. In 1997, he served on the Technical Assistance Faculty of the Institute of Government, University of Georgia. He also served as a consultant to Georgia’s Family Connection initiative and to the Georgia Policy Council on Children and Families, as well as conducting workshops for communities on how to develop plans for addressing the problems of at-risk youth.

Locally, he was a board member of the Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission, a member of the Savannah-Chatham County Youth Futures Authority, and a member and former chairman of the Coastal Area Planning and Development Commission. In addition, he served on the Governors Coastal Zone Management Planning Council and as Chairman of the Coastal Area Planning and Development Commission from 1983 to 1985.

Mendonsa’s publications include: Simplified Financial Management for Local Governments (University of Georgia Press, 1969); “The Name of the Game is Credibility” (Public Management, ICMA, November 1975); “Council-Manager Relations and the Changing Community Environment” (Public Management, ICMA, September 1977); and “Yardsticks for Measuring the Success of Service Programs in Savannah” (State and Local Government Review, Carl Vinson Institute of Government, The University of Georgia, Spring 1986).

Don Mendonsa died at the age of 71 on September 30, 1999 while hiking in Colorado. He was survived by his wife, Suzanne Mendonsa of Savannah, two sons and daughters-in-law Andy and Gloria Mendonsa and Don and Jill Mendonsa, five stepchildren, Lisa, Terry, Karen, Richard, and Emily Danzig, and 12 grandchildren.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains certificates, clippings, correspondence, financial records, minutes, notes, pamphlets, photographs, proclamations, resolutions, and speeches dating from 1915 to 2000. The bulk of the papers date from the 1990s and focus on Mendonsa's involvement in programs dealing with at-risk youth and other issues relevant to children and their families. Programs include the New Futures Initiative, Family Connection, and the Youth Futures Authority.

The collection is processed at the basic level. The papers were re-boxed during processing and minimal re-foldering was carried out. The papers are largely in original order, with the exception of moving like materials into the same boxes (i.e., reference materials are filed together in boxes 10-14). Artifacts were separated and cataloged with the artifacts collection.


This collection is arranged into 18 boxes and 1 oversize folder::

This collection is arranged into 18 boxes and 1 oversize folder:

Box 1: Biographical materials, personal papers, speeches by Mendonsa, photographs, and correspondence of R. Cuyler Gordon dating from 1915 to 1999

Box 2: City of Savannah budget, audit, and financial materials (1994-2000), city crime control material (1991), bureau goals and objectives (1994), retreat materials (1988), academy for career enhancement materials (1991), Historic District ordinance review records (1994-1997), Goat Club minutes (1965), Responsive City Service program materials (1993), and City Manager's briefing (1986)

Box 3: Papers regarding the Georgia Coastal Management Program (1997), Georgia Municipal Association (1994), Chatham-Effingham Library Regional Library Foundation (1995-2000), welfare reform, and the Georgia City-County Management Association (1999-2000)

Box 4: University of Georgia comprehensive health planning correspondence (1969), University of Georgia local government management course materials (1996), Children's Initiative speeches and training transparencies (1990s), Crime speech transparencies (1986), and a Strategic Planning notebook (circa 1970s)

Box 5: Writings by Mendonsa including: Simplified Financial Management in Local Government (1969), "Planning Strategies to Help Children Become Successful Adults : A Planning Manual" (1996), and "Governance and Community Collaborative Structures to Serve Children and Families" (1998)

Box 6: New Futures Initiative and Family Connection materials dating from 1987-1999

Boxes 7-9: Youth Futures Authority records dating from 1994-1999

Boxes 10-14: Mendonsa's reference resources on various topics

Boxes 15-18: Electronic documents printed from 3x5 inch floppy disks on the Youth Futures Authority, Mendonsa's writings, correspondence, etc.

Oversize folder 1: Diplomas, certificates, photographs, and articles on Mendonsa dating from 1952-1993

Index Terms

City planning--Georgia.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Financial records.
Gordon, R. Cuyler.
Letters (correspondence)
Mendonsa, Arthur Adonel, 1928-1999.
Minutes (administrative records)
Problem youth--Georgia.
Resolutions (administrative records)
Savannah (Ga.). Office of the City Manager.
Speeches (documents)

Administrative Information

Processing information

This collection is processed at the Basic Level (or collection level). There is no detailed inventory for this collection as it is not fully processed. To request that this collection be added to our priority list of collections to be fully processed as staffing and funding allow, please contact the Library and Archives staff.


Access restrictions

The collection is open for research.