Joseph W. Donnelly

January 16, 1942 ~ January 19, 2024 (age 82) 82 Years Old

Joseph Donnelly Obituary

Joe Donnelly, 82, passed away peacefully on Friday, January 19, 2024. The loving and beloved husband of Mary Eileen (McMahon) Donnelly, Joe was also the proud father of Joseph Thomas, William Joseph and Kathleen Therese, cherished father-in-law to Heather McNamara and Keir Craigie, and adoring Pepere to Henry, Ruby and Eagan.

Joe will be greatly missed by his brother Louis Donnelly as well as his sisters Maria Cramer, Cecile Hersh, Anne Louise MacLean and Rita Camara. He is predeceased by his brothers Thomas and Philip and his sister Lorrie. Joe was also loved by his in-laws Michael and Mary, Maureen and Tom, John and Denise, Liz and Kenny, Jimmy and Kim and Jeff and Nora. Joe is survived by many friends who admired his many talents and sense of humor, and who stood by him when he needed them most.

At Joe’s request, funeral arrangements will be private through Riendeau-Mulvey Funeral Home, 467 Bay St. Taunton, MA.

In lieu of flowers, Eileen asks that you treat yourself to some ice cream or a Hershey bar in Joe’s honor. Those who wish to make a gift in his memory may to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or a charity of your choice.

A few words of remembrance:

Joe Donnelly (Uncle Joe, Pepere) passed away on Friday, January 19, three days after his 82nd birthday. If you were to ask me what he did for a living, I would say “work,” since that’s easier than listing the resume: farmer, carpenter, truck driver, mechanic, logger, welder, heavy equipment operator, and on and on, but not in a “bounced from job to job” kind of way. More like a multi-sport athlete. A good son, brother, cousin and friend, Joe was born in the middle of nine siblings, and carved his own path early. (One tale involves a 4-year-old Joe paddling down the Taunton River in a boat of his own design. I don’t know if that story is true, but doesn’t it sound like him?) A genuine worker, he was the kid who went to his job at the dairy farm before school and then off to another job after. In May 1963, Joe was introduced to 19-year-old nursing student Eileen McMahon and, as they tell it, lived happily ever after. (I enjoy my Uncle John’s version: “One day, my sister came home and said, ‘I met a guy who looks like Hoss from Bonanza and he’s gonna marry me!")

A lifelong resident of Taunton, raised in Whittenton, Joe worked hard to establish a homestead on the distant frontier, two houses from the East Taunton line. When he became a father, my dad applied his skills in unique ways: he turned the backyard into an ice rink; fashioned a (temporary) in-ground pool with a slide; built a steel swing-set that could’ve supported a tractor… There’s more, but I can already feel him telling me to get on with it. (Last one: He grew the best strawberries and tomatoes I’ve ever tasted, to the point where I’ve stopped looking for a replacement. Nothing compares.) As many people know, my dad didn’t want a wake or funeral. Ever practical, he didn’t see the point of having a party on his behalf that he couldn’t attend. While my mom understands the people who loved him want to say goodbye and pay their respects, she also wants to honor her husband, and to grieve in her own way. So, I hope everyone understands we’re trying to honor my dad’s wishes. In other words: It’s what Joe Donnelly wanted. Do you wanna go against Joe Donnelly? My mom told me he was very proud that they made it to 60 years of marriage. He managed to throw an anniversary party in the nursing facility. He always looked for inventive ways to have fun and express love, even under difficult circumstances. One of his go-to phrases was, “Go make yourself useful.” If you wish to honor Joe/Dad/Uncle Joe/Joe Neighbor/Pa D/Pepere, go help someone out. Make a call. Check in on someone. Fix something. Drive someone somewhere.

In lieu of flowers, go make yourself useful. Take care, Dad. We love you and we’ll miss you until we see you again.

I don’t go to funerals.

I won’t be at mine.

I’ll be somewhere looking back,

At loved ones left behind.

My life has been a wonder,

And I found my place in time.

But I don’t go to funerals,

And I won’t be at mine.

-Willie Nelson

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Private Services


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Tel: 1-800-805-5856


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