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August 24, 1946 - March 9, 2023
A fuller life there could not have been. Anne Louise (McGonagle) Connolly's time in this world brimmed with kindness, advocacy, generosity, and love. She raised two daughters, setting them forth believing the world to be a fair one, and one they had a responsibility to improve. These two women cherished their mother. Anne’s influence reached further, as many siblings, nieces, nephews, students, friends, and three beloved grandchildren blossomed under her warm light, laughing and learning along the way. She has imprinted on so many of us, and we now reflect that light back into the world, because of her.
Raised across from Carson Beach in South Boston among a flurry of siblings and extended family, Anne matched the other piece of her puzzle when she was just 16 years old. John Connolly would become her best friend and partner, and together, they took refuge. That shared protection allowed them both to give even more of themselves to everyone around them. Anne lived each day inspiring happiness in others and fighting for those who could not fight for themselves.
After college, Anne led Camp Joy, a summer program for children with disabilities in the City of Boston that continues to this day. She then became the first special education teacher at the William Monroe Trotter School. This early work inspired her to join the Senate Education Committee, where with her colleagues, she worked to pass the Massachusetts Special Education Law (Chapter 766) in 1972.
Working in the State Department of Education, she helped author special education implementation regulations and directed the State’s program that placed children with disabilities in appropriate schools. At the Murphy School in Dorchester, she brought the resources of a federal grant to bear to improve the evaluation of both English and Spanish-speaking children in the late 1970’s.
The next chapter of Anne’s career was in real estate as she became a working mother in 1978 and 1979. In the late 1980’s she added eldercare to her areas of expertise, becoming the Director of Sales and Marketing for Fox Hill Village, a retirement and assisted living community in Westwood, MA. She ultimately served over two decades at Fox Hill, touching thousands of families. Along the way, she became an expert in her field and offered consulting services in both the public and private sector.
Anne also gave of herself freely as a volunteer. She was deeply proud to be an Associate Commissioner of the Boston Park Department and a Trustee of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. Closer to home, she served the boards of the Italian Home for Children and the Jamaica Hills Association. Through each of these, she expressed her natural inclination to nurture beauty and to build community.
The greatest community of her life, however, was the family she built with her soulmate, John Patrick Connolly (Oct. 30, 1947 - Dec. 20, 2020). Theirs was a marriage unlike most. They found in each other everything that was missing. Her curiosity was met by his intellect. Her laughter was unleashed by his wit. Her dinner parties, garden parties, birthday parties, and cookouts were met by his soft chuckle and attentive evenings at the dishwasher. They were two parts that once paired, never separated.
Together, they moved from South Boston to Jamaica Plain in 1976. They began their family in 1978 with the birth of their first daughter, Catherine “Katie” Julia Connolly. In 1979, daughter Julianna Barbara Connolly arrived, and for the next 41 years, Anne created a home for these three in addition to her impressive career and life of advocacy. Upon losing John in 2020, Anne remained focused on living the life they loved–full of family, travel, music, and art. She persevered in their shared pursuits, traveling abroad on her own and enjoying their homes in the Berkshires and in Florida.
Later in life, some of her favorite companions were her three grandsons, Shea McDonnell, Peter Cohan, and Louis Cohan, who was named for her. This merry crew took New England by storm with innumerable road trips to museums, water parks, performances–always in pursuit of the best chocolate chip pancakes. She taught them to respect themselves and care for one another. The love she gave to them will be with them forever. Equally, Anne cared for and respected her sons-in-law, Sander Cohan and Brian McDonnell, as if they were her own. Both men served her kindly at every moment.
Anne is survived by her daughters, sons-in-law, and grandsons, all of Jamaica Plain, MA. In addition, she is survived by her siblings, Mickey McGonagle of Duxbury, Ed McGonagle of Canton, Mamie Berger of Amesbury, and Ellie Bosse of Medway. She is remembered by her brothers- and sisters-in-law, 14 nieces and nephews along with their families, her cousin Mary Catherine Jackson of Buffalo, NY, and John’s extended Faherty Family in Galway, Ireland. Anne will be missed by a lifetime of friends, some who were as close as family. She was predeceased by her husband, John, her parents Daniel and Jeanette McGonagle, her beloved brother Bill McGonagle, her adored nephew Ed McGonagle, her cousin MJ McDonnell, and her cousin Padraig Faherty of Rossaveal, County Galway, Ireland.
In lieu of flowers, acknowledgements of Anne’s life are humbly encouraged to The Anne and John Connolly Dignity Fund at Homestart, www.homestart.org. A celebration of her life, legacy, and impact will happen when we can be together in a beautiful garden, just as she would like it. May you live your life bravely and have no regrets.