New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | January 23, 2021

Avis Donna Alexander

Dr. Avis Donna Alexander departed this life on Nov. 30, 2020, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Donna led a life filled with accomplishment, beginning with her higher education at John Tyler Community College before continuing to complete her bachelor’s degree in English. She followed that with a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Psychology, earning them at Virginia Commonwealth University. She subsequently worked in different capacities as a medical grant coordinator at MCV before starting her career in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) as a professor of psychology at Northern Virginia Community College and John Tyler Community College (JTCC). She 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 (RCC). She accomplished 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 on medical decision making when treating patients with congestive heart failure. The research was definitive as it saved countless lives and improved the quality of life for individuals around the world.

Donna’s passion was education. Coming from a large family and being the eldest sister, her first students were her younger siblings. She was a natural teacher, believing in providing others the same opportunity for education when she returned to teach in the VCCS. Recognized as a leader when selected as Dean of the Arts and Sciences at JTCC, she was integral in the expansion that included opening the Midlothian campus. Always seeking opportunities for growth, she was selected to serve as Vice President at RCC, where she worked with school and community leaders to provide new opportunities for her students including opening the RCC site in New Kent. Most importantly to Donna was her family, for whom she worked hard every day.

Donna was preceded in death by her father, Edward Vernon Alexander of Tarboro, North Carolina; and mother, Marie Carol Welch of Chester, Virginia.

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; 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.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Donna’s memory may be made to Rappahannock Community College Educational Foundation or the John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Due to COVID-19, the family will wait until Spring to hold a funeral with Holy Eucharist at the Fork Church in Doswell, Virginia. Information will be posted at when available. Tributes may be posted at