A Tribute to Dr. Avis Donna Alexander
Dr. Avis Donna Alexander departed this life on November 30, 2020, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Donna led a life filled with accomplishment, beginning her higher education at John Tyler Community College before continuing to complete her bachelor’s degree in English, followed by a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Psychology, all at Virginia Commonwealth University. She subsequently worked serving in different capacities as a medical grant coordinator at MCV before starting her career in the Virginia Community College System as a Professor of Psychology at Northern Virginia Community College and John Tyler Community College. She later served as Dean of Arts and Science for JTCC and capped her career as Vice President of Instruction and Student Development at Rappahannock Community College. She accomplished all of this while raising her four children.
Donna began her academic career while still in graduate school acting as coordinator and researcher on a large project researching medical decision making, when treating patients with congestive heart failure. The research was definitive, resulted in saving countless lives, and improving the quality of life for an enumerable number of individuals around the world.
Although successful and published in medical decision-making research, Donna’s passion was education. Coming from a large family and being the eldest sister, her first students were younger siblings, and she was a natural teacher. She strongly believed in providing others the same opportunity for education she had and returned to teach in the Virginia Community College System. Recognized as a leader, she was selected as Dean of the Arts and Sciences at John Tyler Community College where she was integral in the expansion of JTCC including the opening of the Midlothian campus. Always seeking opportunities for growth, she was selected to serve as Vice President at Rappahannock Community College, where she worked with school and community leaders to provide new opportunities for her students including opening the RCC site in New Kent.
Most important to Donna was her family, for whom she worked hard every day. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Gene Gourley; her children, Alex and his wife Amber, Nicholas and his wife Sarah, Katherine and her husband Ramon, and Grey; her grandchildren, Tyler, Sarah, Emelia Anastasia, Josephina, Angelina, Bryce, and Thomas; her siblings, Edward, Ivan, Andy, Shelley, and Emmet, and numerous other family and friends, who supported her over the years.
Donna was preceded in death by her father, Edward Vernon Alexander of Tarboro, NC and her mother, Marie Carol Welch of Chester, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations in Donna’s memory may be made to the Rappahannock Community College Educational Foundation or the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Due to COVID-19, the family will wait until the Spring to hold a Funeral with Holy Eucharist at the Fork Church in Doswell, Virginia. Information will be posted at www.forkchurch.com when available
Mail a check to: RCC Educational Foundation, PO Box 923, Warsaw, VA 22572
Or, online: www.rappahannock.edu/foundation/give
Please write “Donna Alexander” in the memo line/designation box.
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