Mary Donnelly, 1927 to 2022
Mary Donnelly passed away peacefully at her home May 12, 2022 surrounded by her loving family. Mary was 94 years old, born December 14, 1927 to Frank and Rosina Shaw of Olyneville, R.I.
Mary is survived by her brother, Robert Shaw of Olyneville, R.I., her children, Michael Donnelly (Don Zanone), Patricia Hiller (Gerry), MaryAnn Tapia (Charlie), Marguerite Donnelly and Elizabeth Masci (Nick). Grandchildren, Kerri, Christopher, Austin, Riley, Natalie, Nicholas, Shelley and Phillip and nine great grandchildren. Mary is predeceased by husband John, daughter Kathleen and son John Jr. She also leaves many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Mary will be missed by the community of islanders she so dearly loved. In 1958, John took the position of New England Telephone Man on the island and Mary became the State Visiting Nurse. With four children in tow, they moved to their forever home. Mary wore many hats with no resident doctor during winters. She delivered babies, helped with end of life and always was there to lend an ear.
Mary also served as Block Island School Nurse. She was instrumental in the development of the Block Island Medical Center and served on the Medical Center Board. She was president of St. Andrews Ladies Guild and a member of the American Legion and The Lions Club.
In 1979 The Mary D Fund was founded for islanders to offset the lean times. The Fund has helped countless people over the years and boasts a yearly Ball.
Mary received many accolades over the years with the most recent being honored by the Diocese of Providence with a Lumen Gentium for her outstanding dedication to Parish Service.
She was featured in The New York Times, CBS News Sunday Morning Show and NBC Nightly News Making a Difference and a PBS film, “Island Nurse.” Mary was a member of St. Andrews Parish where she served as a Eucharistic Minister.
She traveled the world, was blessed by the Pope, but Mary’s greatest joy were her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Mary leaves a legacy of love, kindness, faith, hope and charity. No words can describe the void Mary will leave but we can continue to live as she did, with an open heart.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mary’s name to The Mary D Fund, P.O. Box 323, Block Island, R.I. 02807.