Angelyn Konugres Coupounas
October 25, 1923, – July 27, 2023, 99 Years-old, Boulder, CO
We are sad to announce that on July 27th, 2023, we had to say goodbye to Angelyn Coupounas, 99, of Boulder, Colorado. Her late husband, George D. Coupounas, was from, Chestnut Hill, Brookline, MA.
She is survived by her son, Demetrios George Coombs Coupounas, his wife Kimberly Riether Coupounas, her grandson George Demetrios Leonidas Coupounas of Longmont, CO and her brother Dr. James Konugres of San Marcos, CA, as well as many beloved nieces and nephews.
She was also preceded in death by her parents Sam, Elizabeth (Johns), and Mae (Saliba) Konugres, her siblings Helyn (Konugres) Bebermyer, Gus Konugres, Kris Ann (Konugres) Vogelpohl, and Dr. Beverly (Konugres) Bain.
Dr. Konugres was a pioneering scientist who led a life of purpose and dedication to science, medicine, family, and community. The world’s first recipient of a Ph.D. in immunohematology, discoverer of two rare blood types, and a longtime Harvard Medical School faculty member, Dr. Konugres was recognized internationally as an authority on hemolytic disease of the newborn, neonatal blood diseases, and transfusion therapy. She authored the book “Eradication of Hemolytic Diseases of the Newborn” as well as many articles for medical and scientific journals. She was an early proponent and contributor to the development of an antigen for the protection of newborns against hemolytic anemia. The Rh immune globulin (RhoGAM) antigen has saved hundreds of thousands of babies’ lives worldwide since its widespread adoption in the 1960s.
Dr. Konugres was an early and dedicated blood banker, active in the American Association of Blood Bankers (AABB). She was Chairman of the Rare Blood Group Registry for AABB and taught many AABB seminars. She also designed the multi-blood pack to be used in small blood transfusions.
She was a noted authority on blood testing for disputed parentage and served as expert witness in many legal cases on disputed parentage. She authored the legal guidelines for blood testing in disputed parentage studies for the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association.
Throughout her career, she was as a Principal Associate in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harvard Medical School, as Associate Director of the Blood Bank at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Director of the Blood Bank of the Los Angeles County General Hospital – USC School of Medicine, Research Associate and Associate Director for e Blood Grouping Laboratory in Boston, Director of the Blood Grouping Laboratory at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Director of Research at Boston Hospital for Women, Director of Immunohematology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Director of the Blood Bank at the Boston Hospital for Women.
Dr. Konugres graduated from Colorado College in 1946 and earned a Master’s degree at the Los Angeles County Hospital at the University of Southern California Medical School in 1948 with a focus on blood transfusion medicine. For the next 9 years, she directed the Los Angeles County blood bank. With a research fellowship, she attended the University of Cambridge in England and, in 1959, became the world’s first recipient of a Ph.D. in immunohematology, a field so new that it did not yet have a name. Dr. Konugres studied under Dr. Robin Coombs, the renowned immunologist, discoverer of the Coombs test used for detecting antibodies in various clinical scenarios, such as Rh disease and blood transfusion. Dr. Konugres and Dr. Coombs maintained a lifelong friendship until Dr. Coombs’ passing in 2006.
She was honored by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Association of Blood Banks with the Angelyn Konugres Seminar in Immunohematology, by the American Association of Blood Banks with its Medallion for Leadership for her discovery of new blood factors and the Memorial Award for scientific contributions to transfusion therapy. In 1985, Colorado College recognized Dr. Konugres with its first Louis Benezet Award for extraordinary achievement that exemplifies the values of a liberal arts and sciences education. In 2007, Colorado College awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Science degree. Dr. Konugres and her work were featured in the book, “Bloody Brilliant: A History of Blood Groups and Blood Groupers” about the blood medicine pioneers.
Throughout her life, Dr. Konugres continued an active commitment to civic engagement and education. She was the first woman in history to serve on the board of the Harvard Club of Boston. She served as a member of the Defense Department’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Services when the military academies were being opened to women. She served on the Board of Trustees and as President of the Board of Trustees of Hellenic College Holy Cross School of Theology, of Mt. Ida College, and Anatolia College. She served on the Boston World Affairs Council and the executive council of the Oxford-Cambridge Society of New England. A patron of the arts, she was a longtime supporter and board member of the Boston Ballet and the Boston Opera as well as a season ticket holder at the Boston Symphony and the New York Metropolitan Opera. After retiring from her position at the Medical School at Harvard University, she took classes at the University in the humanities and social sciences.
Dr. Konugres was a caring person, always asking how others were getting along and doing any myriad of thoughtful and kind things to help them. Dr. Konugres became known over the years for remembering everybody’s big days, sending them cards filled with New Yorker cartoon clippings she’d hand-selected for them. She was always celebrating others, cheering them on and lifting them up. She was both warm and fierce, kind and no-nonsense. She had a keen wit, a probing mind, and a generous and giving nature. She was blessed with several deep and lifelong friendships.
During her college years and beyond, Dr. Konugres lived the life of a true intellectual, reading voraciously and engaging in lively debates on the issues of the day. In her retirement in Boulder, CO, she took classes in Russian literature and architecture at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She participated in dozens of book clubs during her lifetime, calling her book club friends “bookies.” A lifelong Republican, Dr. Konugres also had an enduring love for gardening and flowers, especially blue hydrangea, and for entertaining family and friends at her home in Chestnut Hill, MA.
Dr. Konugres received many honors during her lifetime, but when asked what her greatest was, she would say it was the birth and lives of her son Demetri and her grandson George.
Dr. Konugres donated her body for studies at Harvard Medical School and the Colorado School of Medicine to advance medical knowledge, with a hope that her example would encourage others to do the same. After cremation, her ashes will be scattered by her family in the flower beds at her home in Boulder.
A private memorial service will be held for close family and friends. Contributions in her memory may be made to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA or by donating blood to the American Red Cross or other local blood bank. Please share stories and tributes to Dr. Konugres at: https://angelyn-konugres.