Joseph P. Donahue, 61, who was administrative assistant to former representative John S. Monagan (D-Conn.) from 1961 to 1973, died of injuries suffered in a car accident Sept. 30 in Wolcott, Conn.

He had moved to Connecticut after Monagan's defeat in the 1972 election, and at the time of his death was executive vice president of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association. He lived in Wolcott.

Mr. Donahue first came to Washington as an administrative assistant to then representative John Joseph Smith (D-Conn.), who served in Congress from 1935 to 1941.

Later he was with the Washington and the New Haven bureaus of the editor of the Naugatuck Daily News in Associated Press. He was managing Connecticut for a number of years before returning to Washington in 1961.

Mr Donahue was born in Waterbury, Conn. He began his newspaper career with the old Waterbury Democrat after graduating from high school.

During World War II, he was a combat correspondent with the Maringe Corps and took part in the Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns in the Pacific, receiving the Bronze Star.

He is survived by his wife, Jane Keating, of the home; two daughters, Patricia A., of Mount Sinai, N.Y., and Jill DePasquale, of Voorheesville, N.Y.; a son, Joseph P., of Twin Rivers, N.Y.; two sisters, Nancy D. Ouelette, of Waterbury, and Kathleen Cleary, of Calif.; a brother, Francis J., of Rock Island, Ill., and seven grandchildren.