Cdr. Thomas J. Donoher, 51, Catholic chaplain at the Naval Academy in Annapolis for the last three years, died of cancer Friday at the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Father Donoher began his service with the Navy 33 years ago as an aviation cadet in the V-5 program at Miami, Fla.

He later enlisted in the Navy and entered the academy in 1945, graduating in 1949. He served as a Supply Corps officer and rose to the rank of commander.

In 1963, Father Donoher was released from active duty to enter St. John Vianney Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y. During his five years as a seminary student, he continued to serve as a supply officer in the Naval Reserve.

Father Donoher was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington on May 18, 1968. He celebrated his first mass the next day at the Naval Academy Chapel.

He then returned to active duty with the Navy and took Chaplain Corps training at the Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I.

Before reporting as a chaplain to the Naval Academy in 1974, Father Donoher served at the Naval Station in Charleston, S.C., with the 3d Marine Division in Vietnam and as an aide to the Navy chief of chaplains in Washington.

He earned a master's degree in business administration from the Harvard University Business School. He held the Legion of Merit for his service with the marines in Vietnam.

Father Donoher was a member of the Naval Academy Alumni Association, the Harvard Business School Alumni Association and the Army Navy Country Club here.

He is survived by his mother, Elizabeth Donoher, and a sister, Jeanne Stiff, both of Bernardsville, N.J., and two brothers, Paul B. Donoher and the Rev. Ned Donoher both of Detroit.