Memorial Service for Alana Donohue ’18 Set for July 11

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“There was an urgency to Alana’s life,” says her father, Ted Donohue.

Alana Donohue ’18
Alana Donohue ’18 was a beloved member of her family and of her Dartmouth class. She died suddenly at her home on June 23. (Photo courtesy of Niki and Ted Donohue) 

Alana Donohue ’18 is being remembered by family and friends as a compassionate, intellectually curious young woman with a zany sense of humor who packed a lot of adventure into a tragically short life. She died suddenly at her home in Manhattan on June 23, of anaphylaxis. There will be a memorial service on campus on July 11.

“She just gave so much to so many in 20 whirlwind years of exuberance and empathy,” her father, Ted Donahue, said in a eulogy at her funeral in New York.

“Despite all her accomplishments, all of her vast travels around the world to places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Turkey, Egypt, Dubai, Brazil, and, most recently, Peru, all her brilliance and beauty, it was her capacity to act as a messenger of goodness, happiness and healing of others that in the end most defined her,” he said.

Donohue attended the Chapin School in Manhattan, spending her junior year in Beijing, studying Mandarin.

Her father says she “revered” Dartmouth. “When she got there, she found what she wanted. She said it was a place for really bright people—people not defined merely by their intelligence but also by their capacity to lead a fun, full life.”

He says his daughter loved her Dartmouth classes, but always made time for friends, whenever and wherever they needed her. If she had to choose between studying for a test and consoling someone who was unhappy in the middle of the night, Alana would choose to be with her friend, he said. “She could stay up all night, have breakfast at Lou’s, and still do fine on the test.”

She was also an excellent writer, says one of her professors, Jennifer Sargent of the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric.

“In person, she was a quick, sharp, and wry young lady,” Sargent says. “She was bouncy and frenetic, bubbling over with enthusiasm. But in her writing, Alana slowed down and captured the nuances and essences of her theses. She let her ideas blossom. She had a very beautiful way with words, and her sentences had shape and elegance that allowed a thoughtful, pensive voice to come through. Her enthusiasm for her work definitely showed in her writing, but it was calmer than her extroverted ebullience.”

Ted Donohue believes his daughter’s insistence on “living in the moment” had something to do with her chronic health problems, including celiac disease, asthma, and life-threatening allergies. “Despite her powerful personality, Alana was internally quite fragile,” Donohoe said in his eulogy. “However, these health issues did lead her to live life with zealousness, passion, and intensity, precisely because she fully understood how precious life truly is, how ephemeral a beautiful moment can be.”

Writing to the Dartmouth community about her death, President Phil Hanlon ’77 said, “Alana will be remembered by those who knew her as a loving and caring friend.”

Those seeking support can contact the dean on call or the counselor on call through Safety and Security at (603) 646-4000 at any hour.

The July 11 memorial service will begin at 8 p.m. in the Bema. Following a candlelight procession to the Green, there will be a reception and slide show at Top of the Hop in the Hopkins Center for the Arts. 

The Donohue family is setting up the Alana Donohue Dartmouth Memorial Fund in hopes that donations will support scholarships for Dartmouth students.

Charlotte E. Albright