It is with great sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of the John Donahue, professor emeritus of sociology and anthropology. Donahue collapsed and died unexpectedly on Sept. 25. He was 76.
A native of Elmira, New York, Donahue earned a bachelor’s in philosophy from Glen Ellyn College, a master’s in education and a master of theology from Maryknoll, and a doctorate in applied anthropology from Columbia University. He joined the Trinity faculty as assistant professor in 1974, was promoted to associate professor in 1979, and to full professor in 1984.
During his tenure he served as department chair three different times and on virtually every University committee, earning broad respect from his fellow professors. Donahue also chaired the Latin American Studies program (1978-79) and directed the bilingual education program (1975-79). An active scholar, Donahue’s research focus included economic networks of Peruvian Indians, population movements in Columbia and rural health delivery systems in Bolivia and Nicaragua. He was the author of numerous articles and his book, The Nicaragua Revolution in Health: From Somoza to the Sandinistas, was published in 1985. In 2004, Trinity honored him for distinction in his service to both the University and the greater San Antonio community.
His expertise on a number of Latin and South American issues made him a sought out consultant to numerous government, academic, and NGO organizations. The U.S. State Department named him a Scholar-Diplomat in 1979 and under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), he consulted with officials in Bolivia, Peru, Columbia, and Nicaragua on health issues. He was also a consultant on bilingual education for the Edgewood ISD in San Antonio, and a preceptor in anthropology and education for Teachers College, Columbia University, among other consultancies.
In later years, Donahue studied the San Antonio water system and its associated conflicts extensively and worked to improve the delivery of health care services to people living in the inner city of San Antonio and along the Texas-Mexico border. He was co-founder and charter member of the board of directors of La Clinica Amistad in San Antonio and worked with teen-aged mothers in the Rio Grande Valley.
After his retirement from Trinity in 2010, he became an ordained Presbyterian minister and served as part-time pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Karnes City. As part of that ministry, he often visited prisoners and during those visits encountered some of the women and children refugees from Central America. Typical of his life long passion for social justice and compassion for the less fortunate, Donahue was attending a meeting at First Presbyterian Church in San Antonio to address refugees’ plight and had just given the invocation when he collapsed.
Remembering his colleague, sociology and anthropology professor Michael Kearl said, “There are few true givers in this world and John was one of them. He will be greatly missed.”
Donahue is survived by his wife, the Rev. Consuelo Donahue, son Edward and his wife, Cristi; daughter Bernadette; son Roberto; and one granddaughter.