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Long IslandObituaries

Clarice Donaldson, retired psychiatrist, pioneer, dead at 96

In June 1959, she received a medical degree from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

Clarice Donaldson, a pioneering black female psychiatrist, died

Clarice Donaldson, a pioneering black female psychiatrist, died of natural causes on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in her Roosevelt home, her family said. She was 96. Photo Credit: Family

Clarice Donaldson, who was ahead of her time as an internationally trained black female psychiatrist during the U.S. civil rights movement, died Oct. 11 of natural causes in her Roosevelt home.

She was 96.

Donaldson’s friends and family said she remained active and intellectually curious until her final days, outliving brothers Charles, Ivan and Andrew. In fact, Madeline Strachan, the wife of Donaldson’s cousin Edward Strachan, remembers the day a medical examiner came to Donaldson’s home to confirm her death.

“The medical examiner asked, ‘She used to walk up these steps every day?’ ” said Madeline Strachan, of Westbury. “We said, ‘Yeah,’ and he said, ‘She doesn’t look 96. I thought she was in her late 70s.’ ”

Donaldson was born in Boston in July 1921 to Jamaican parents. Her parents moved back to Jamaica for a short period, Strachan said, then moved back to America — first to Detroit, then to New York City.

Donaldson was raised in Manhattan and graduated from George Washington High School, Strachan said. After a short civilian stint with the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, Clarice Donaldson received a bachelor’s degree from Long Island University, her family said.

In June 1959, she received a medical degree from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. After returning to New York, she began working as a psychiatrist in Queens at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, from which she retired in 1995.

After retiring, Donaldson found more time to spend with family. Strachan said she grew close to Donaldson when she and Edward Strachan held Saturday breakfast meetups at various diners across Long Island. Donaldson told stories of her travels to Europe.

“The last trip she had gone to was to France,” the cousin’s wife said. “And I remember she said to me, ‘I think I’m getting too old to do this now.’ ”

Edward Strachan described Donaldson as “more like a sister” and someone who gave great advice.

“We used to talk almost every day,” he said. “I miss the phone calls from her. I miss hearing from her.”

Donaldson’s younger brother Andrew G. Donaldson was a City College of New York professor who founded the New York Association of Black Educators. City College has a scholarship in Andrew Donaldson’s name that will be changed to the Donaldson Family to honor all four siblings, said Elaine Golding, a lifelong friend of Andrew and Clarice Donaldson.

City College of New York interim President Vincent Boudreau is scheduled to give remarks at Clarice Donaldson’s memorial.

Donaldson was married for a short time, her family said. Besides her cousins, nephews and nieces, there are no other immediate survivors.

A memorial is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Church of the Advent in Westbury.

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