First Responders 03

Agnes Henrietta Donahue

November 21, 1945 ~ September 26, 2020 (age 74)


Agnes Henrietta Donahue, DDS, MPH

Agnes Henrietta Donahue was born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi on November 21, 1945, to parents Henry Y. Donahue and Valletta (Baker) Donahue. She transitioned peacefully on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at the Adventist Shady Grove Hospital in Rockville, MD following a brief illness. 

Agnes was the youngest of two children. Henry B. Donahue, her older brother, preceded her in death as did her parents. Her father was a Baptist minister who pastored three small churches along the Mississippi gulf coast. Her love for music came from her mother who played the piano for church services and her brother who stood out for his musical talent and athletic abilities.  

School was a special event for Agnes. Her mother put lots of energy into preparing her for segregated school in Mississippi. When she entered first grade, Agnes could recite the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, and count to a hundred by 1s, 2s and 5s. She made up her mind early on that she was going to college when she finished high school. She did well in school at every grade level and by seventh grade developed an interest in science. 

Agnes attended Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, a Historically Black Colleges and Universities, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with honors. She matriculated at Meharry Medical College, School of Dentistry, where she graduated and entered the Pediatric Dentistry Program at Boston University School of Graduate Dentistry in 1975.

After graduate training, Agnes returned to Mississippi as a faculty member at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, School of Dentistry. Her interest and work in Child Development led her to the University of California at Berkeley, School of Public Health where she received a Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Heath. Agnes received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellowship in the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) and was assigned to the Intramural Dental Clinic, Pediatric Oncology.  She accepted a position in the NIH Grants Associates Program.

Along the way she was invited to meet with Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, Director, National Institute of General Medical Sciences where her career took another turn under the tutelage of Dr. Kirschstein who was also Chairperson of the PHS Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health Issues. When the Congressional Caucus of Women’s Issues directed the NIH to establish an Office of Research on Women’s Health, Agnes was tasked with developing and implementing the Action Plan on Women’s Health. This included the creation of Offices of Women’s Health in many Public Health Agencies. For many years, Agnes served as the Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the liaison between the Regional Health Administrators and the Assistant Secretary of Health. Agnes retired from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2015.

Agnes was warmly admired for her brilliance, tenacity, humility, compassion, and unstinting loyalty. As a member of the Washington DC Choral Arts Society, she was the soloist for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Civil Rights Act.  Her musical accomplishment ranged from classical, opera, jazz, and spirituals and she enjoyed good food. Agnes was a devout Catholic, attending the Church of Little Flower of the Archdiocese of Washington in Bethesda, MD, and as a member of the musical ministry, she sang with the Papal Mass Choir for the Washington DC visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. 

She leaves to mourn a niece, Sandra DiNapoli of California; a cousin, George Ray, Sr. of Mississippi;  a longtime friend and musical colleague, Dr. Raeschelle Potter of Vienna, Austria; and a long list of extended family, close friends and colleagues. For those who knew Agnes and shared friendship, the indelible memories and the love in our hearts are eternal.  We appreciate the loving and professional services of Snowden Funeral Home in Rockville, MD in carrying forth the funeral arrangements.  In lieu of flowers, you may send contributions to an institution or charity of your choice in honor of Agnes H. Donahue, DDS, MPH. 

A “Mass of Remembrance” will be held November 23, 2020 at 8:15 AM at the Church of Little Flower, 5607 Massachusetts Ave., Bethesda, MD 20816. 

A Virtual Memorial Service (VMS) for Agnes Henrietta Donahue, DDS, MPH will be held on Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 4:00 PM. 

Below is the Link to attend the “Agnes Henrietta Donahue Memorial Service.”  It is on YouTube.

Thank you for joining in this celebration of Agnes’ life. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Agnes Henrietta Donahue, please visit our floral store.


Live Streaming
November 21, 2020

4:00 PM

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