Thomas Reilly Donahue

September 4, 1928February 18, 2023
Thomas Reilly Donahue passed away peacefully on February 18, 2023 at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C. at the age of 94 with his loving family by his side. Tom leaves behind his adored wife of nearly 44 years, Rachelle Horowitz, his daughter Nancy Donahue (Tom Fogarty), and six treasured grandchildren: Matt Fogarty, Kerry Fogarty (Kevin Carrig), Kate Fogarty; Erin Donahue, Megan Donahue, and Mary Clare Donahue, and their mother, Emily Donahue. He was preceded in death by his son, Thomas Reilly Donahue III, in 2018. Tom was born on September 4, 1928 in The Bronx, New York. He was a proud graduate of Mount Saint Michael Academy (1944), Manhattan College (1949), and Fordham Law School (1956). Tom was married to the former Natalie Kiernan from 1950 until their divorce in 1975. In 1979, he married Rachelle Horowitz, a civil rights activist and Political Action Director with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Early in his career, Tom held several positions with Local 32B of the Service Employees International Union. In 1957, he became the European labor program coordinator for the Free Europe Committee in Paris. He was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor during the Johnson administration from 1967 to 1969. Tom served as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) from 1979 to 1995, and president in 1995. He was a persuasive advocate for the rights of working people, and was widely respected for his integrity, conviction, and compassion. Tom’s life and work demonstrated his deep Catholic faith and unwavering belief in social justice. A giant in his field, Donahue was involved in virtually every part of the trade union movement. But his strongest influence was in three areas: the campaign against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), rejuvenation of the union movement, and advancing Catholic social teaching on workers' rights. Tom also advanced the struggle for human rights in Northern Ireland. He was awarded the annual Bell and Thrush Award by the Irish American Historical Society in 1990, and was the 1997 Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Washington, D.C. Tom led an active retirement, serving on boards including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Dunlop Agricultural Labor Commission, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the Carnegie Corporation. His love of history and family led him to trace his roots from The Bronx to Wexford, Ireland, forging life-long ties with relatives along the way. A loyal parishioner of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington, Virginia, Tom was involved in the church’s Haiti Ministry which supported the children of Medor, Haiti. Beloved by his children and grandchildren, Tom delighted in each one’s achievements, from photographing first steps to celebrating budding careers. With his booming voice and brilliant storytelling, Tom easily captivated any audience. His grandchildren learned life’s most important lessons from him — of love, loyalty, strength of character, and a good punchline. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him, and his contributions to the labor movement will continue to inspire generations of labor leaders and activists. A more complete obituary is available at The Washington Post. Visitation with the family will be on Wednesday, March 1 from 5-8pm at Joseph Gawler’s Sons, Washington, D.C. The funeral mass will be at 11am on Thursday, March 2 at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia. Interment will be on March 4 at 11am at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Tom’s life. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Ukraine Children’s Action Project to support the purchase of generators for schools and community sites, Scholarship Fund for Undocumented Students at Fairfield University’s Center for Social Impact, or Our Lady Queen of Peace Haiti Ministry.

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Past Services

Wednesday, March 01, 2023


Thursday, March 02, 2023

Funeral Mass

Saturday, March 04, 2023