Wilma T. Donahue Award

In 1991, the Housing Bureau for Seniors created the Wilma T. Donahue award to recognize outstanding individuals in our community who have demonstrated the same spirit of leadership and commitment to senior housing issues that inspired Dr. Donahue’s work.

Early in her career, Dr. Donahue addressed a wide range of aging concerns, but she later focused on housing as a crucial and unexplored area affecting elderly people’s quality of life. We greatly admire Dr. Donahue’s extraordinary contributions to the senior housing area and we are honored that she agreed to serve as the namesake for this award. Although the Donahue award carries no monetary gift, our hope is that those recognized will accept our sincerest gratitude for their service.

Internationally acclaimed gerontologist Dr. Donahue was considered one of the country’s foremost social gerontologists. She earned both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and then helped establish the Division of Gerontology at the U-M Medical School. In 1948, she was appointed by the governor of Michigan to a citizens committee charged with studying the concerns of older people. She participated in planning the First National Conference on Aging, and she drafted much of the language for the 1959 Older American’s Act. Dr. Donahue attended the ceremony in the White House Rose Garden when President Lyndon Johnson’s signed the act that created the Administration on Aging.

Generous with her time and wisdom, Dr. Donahue was instrumental in obtaining federal funds for opening Lurie Terrace, a trend-setting residence in Ann Arbor designed for moderate-income older adults. She also founded the Institute for Social Gerontology at the University of Michigan and she served on the board of directors of the Housing Bureau for Seniors.

See flyer for a list of past recipients. (PDF)