Barbara H. Donegan, who was a registered nurse for 54 years before retiring in 2009 and was known for her gourmet cooking, died June 28 at her home in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis. She was 86.
The former Barbara Frances Hughes, daughter of Frank V. Hughes, a Mack Truck executive, and his wife, Elizabeth Graveline Hughes, a homemaker, was born in Albany, New York, and in 1936 moved with her family to the Ashburton neighborhood in Baltimore.
After graduating from Notre Dame Preparatory School in 1952, she earned her nursing degree in 1955 from the Bon Secours Hospital School of Nursing. She obtained a master’s degree in public health in 1985 from the University of Maryland, and an associate degree in interior design in the 1990s from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
From 1975 to 1996, she was a public health nurse for the Anne Arundel Health Department, and founded and operated several rural health clinics in Owensville and other towns. She then worked at the Centers for Disease Control, and was the lead nurse at the Caroline County Jail from 1996 to 2007.
She ended her career working as a MedStar home health nurse for two years until retiring when she was 75.
In 1961, she married Capt. Roger Donegan, an Association of Maryland pilot, and as the wife of a captain, entertained and prepared many wonderful dishes, including her famous hand-harvested ribbed mussels that she cooked in a succulent wine sauce. Her recipe was published in the old Gourmet magazine, her daughter, Claudia Donegan Coleman of Edgewater, said in a telephone interview.
After her marriage ended in divorce, she moved to Eastport. In 1983, she married Clifford Eley, a Bell Laboratories scientist and Naval Academy graduate, and for many years, the couple enjoyed boating on the Chesapeake Bay in their 1943 Huckins powerboat. He died in 2008.
She maintained an interest in art and design and liked vacationing in Bermuda.
Interment will be in the Naval Academy Columbarium in the autumn.