Bruce Agnew

Bruce A. Agnew

1934 - 2024

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FREDERICK, MD Bruce A Agnew (9 Nov 1934–1 Jan 2024): On New Year’s Day 2024, Bruce Agnew passed away in his sleep after 89 years of life. He was a beloved father, husband, brother, mentor, and friend. He was renowned for his intellect combined with love, humility, and patience for his family, friends, and colleagues. He never led with his prestigious accomplishments and credentials. Instead, he was approachable and kind to everyone around him. He always put other people first. Bruce Andras Agnew was born to Clark M. Agnew and Gloria Y. R. Bugyi in New York City. He grew up with his first cousin, Clark Downey, who was raised with him as his brother, in Weston, Connecticut. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Choate, a boarding school in Greenwich (now Choate Rosemary Hall, a college preparatory school in Wallingford, Connecticut). During his gap year, Bruce accepted a prestigious one-year English-Speaking Union Fellowship at Westminster Hall in London, where he attended Queen Elizabeth’s II coronation from the choir rafters in the Abbey. He was among only a handful of Americans in attendance for that historic event. After his fellowship, he became a House Scholar at Yale University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1958. After college, Bruce began his 60-year journalist career as a reporter in New York in 1958; then he moved to Washington DC in 1962, where he covered Capitol Hill and the White House. He was a member of the White House Press Corps from 1962 through 1985 for several publications, including United Press International, The New York Post, and McGraw Hill’s World News and its publication BusinessWeek magazine. Highlights of his reporting included his interviews with US Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter. He covered the White House when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. His biggest newsbreak was during Watergate when Senator Hugh Scott and two other Republican senators told President Nixon in the Oval office that he had lost the support of his party, leading to his resignation. Bruce’s most heartbreaking assignment was witnessing and then reporting on Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination from the Democratic National Convention in 1968. He became a Bureau Chief at McGraw-Hill World News until 1988, editing reporting and mentoring a team of 10–25 reporters, one of whom recalled Bruce saying wise mantras to encourage her and other reporters, such as “there is no such thing as a writing problem, just a reporting problem.” From there, he pursued the second half of his career as a science journalist. He greatly enjoyed the work he did and the team he mentored for The Journal of NIH Research from 1989 through 1998, covering scientific advances in virology, genetics, clinical medicine, and policy issues. He then became a freelance writer/editor in the scientific community until 2022, writing articles for Scientific American, Science, and The Scientist, among others. His clients included the National Institutes of Health Office of the Director, National Cancer Institute, and National Institutes for Allergies and Infectious Diseases. He wrote the Genomics chapter for the first and second NIH Biannual Reports to Congress. His editing projects included The Oxford Textbook of Medical Research Ethics; Global Justice and Bioethics, edited by Ezekiel Emanuel and Joseph Millum; Healthcare Guaranteed, by Ezekiel Emanuel; the second edition of Ethical and Regulatory Aspects of Clinical Research, published by Johns Hopkins University Press; and Owen Wister and the West, published by University of Oklahoma Press. His professional memberships included The National Press Club, National Association of Science Writers, DC Science Writers Association, and the Executive Committee of the Congressional Periodical Press Gallery. Bruce was the family expert on Political Science, Civics, and Scientific Research, as well as History and Literature. He was an avid reader who often read several books at a time. He loved Shakespeare so much he memorized his favorite passages. He enjoyed going to the theater and football games with the people he cherished. Bruce was a devoted husband and friend. He met his high school sweetheart, Joan Simons, in 1951, and they broke up under pressure in 1956 because his fellowship put him behind a year academically, and he wasn’t ready to get married while still in college. In 1968, Bruce married Patricia Platt, and they had his only birth daughter, Eleanor. They also had an infant son, Michael, who tragically passed after only 4 days. Bruce and Pat were together for more than 20 years until they divorced in 1989, but he remained good friends with Pat. Bruce later reunited with and later got married to his beloved high school sweetheart, Joan Simons Constantikes, in 2011. He always loved Joan throughout his life and often spoke of her when he was single. Their reuniting and marriage after 50 years made him so happy and was a real fairy tale for those fortunate enough to see. At 89, Bruce was predeceased by many people he loved, including his beloved wife, Joan Constantikes; brother, Clark Downey; and stepdaughter, Patricia Colella. Bruce Agnew leaves behind a small family, his daughter, Eleanor A. Kotler (Dale); nephews Timothy Downey; and Christopher Downey (Hema), his grandnephew and grandniece, Avi and Aanya. However, Bruce’s extended family is very large. He also leaves behind stepdaughters Andrea Torres (Miguel), her twins, Alexa and Miggy Torres; Christina Lawrence (Piers); and Amy Claire Constantikes, her sons James George and Forrest William Tatum; and Katie Colella, daughter of Pat Colella (Frank). Bruce also leaves behind several siblings-in-law and their extended families, as well as many friends and colleagues. Two memorial services are being planned to celebrate Bruce Agnew’s life: Sunday March 10, 2024 at 2 pm at Bethesda United Methodist Church 8300 Old Georgetown Road Bethesda, MD 20814 AND Friday, June 21, 2024, at 11 am, a burial service will be held Willowbrook Cemetery in 395 Main St, Westport, CT 06880.
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11:00 am - 11:45 am
Friday, June 21, 2024
Willowbrook Cemetery
395 Main Street
Westport, Connecticut, United States


Section Old 10, Plot 45A, Grave No. 4
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Bruce Agnew

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Bruce Agnew

1934 - 2024

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