Cover photo for Mary Esther Connolly's Obituary
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Mary Esther Connolly

March 29, 1927 — March 26, 2024

East Walpole

Mary Esther Connolly

Thirty-Four years to the day since the passing of her mother, Mary Esther (Curran) Connolly, age 96, passed away on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, at Saint Patrick’s Manor in Framingham, Massachusetts. Born in Norwood Massachusetts on March 29, 1927, Mary was the daughter of the late Timothy and Honora (Flaherty) Curran, childhood sweethearts who were both from the small village of Bawnrough Bawn near the larger village of Ballynahown in the Gaeltacht region to the west of Galway, Ireland. Emigrating to America shortly before the conclusion of World War 1, Timothy with a 6th grade education and the son of a blind cooper and Nora with a 3rd grade education and the daughter of a weaver, it is family lore but may well be true that Timothy was a member and perhaps a local leader in the nascent Irish Republic Army and that the local British affiliated militia, The Black and Tan, were looking for him and that gave him the impetus to seek his fortune elsewhere. Timothy left first and came to Portland, Maine and then to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Honorah joined him (working in a steel mill and as a household servant respectively) before ending their primary journey in Norwood, a bustling town with a large immigrant Irish population and many jobs to be had for a town its size. 

Settling in, Timothy secured jobs at the large book publishing businesses at the time, first at The Norwood Press and then at The Plimpton Press where he rose to the position of foreman of the loading dock. By 1927 they had purchased a house at 50 Plimpton Avenue and set out to start a family and soon were joined by the addition of two children, Mary Esther in 1927 and Timothy Jr. in 1929. Life was good and then The Great Depression happened. Nora, a lifelong homemaker, short order cook, prolific baker and outgoing spirit of the neighborhood persevered during these times by taking in borders and Timothy would take on extra jobs to help ends meet. When not working Timothy would spend time at The Day St. Pub (The Biz) and was the captain of the local Gaelic Football Club. He was a large and strong man and very well regarded by all who knew him. Through close friendships with people like Jim Coughlin, the postmaster, and others they got by and kept going during these fallow years. During prohibition (1920 -1933) and even later Nora made beer in the basement and Mary was there to help her mother. It was telling that Nora became a very strong woman as she was known to knead dough several times a week as she throughout her life made her own bread as well as beer for  the men of Plimpton Avenue (which soon included her brother John who also joined the little family and lived there the rest of his life). It is also noteworthy that in later years while Timothy after returning home from the pub would normally be found on the couch listening to every Red Sox game on the radio and later the television, Nora was outdoors sitting on a lawn chair surrounded by neighbors and just talking and enjoying the company of as many as 30 neighbors . She was very popular.

Mary, as the years went along, attended with great joy and fond memories St. Catherine's School in Norwood, and excelled in English, spelling and really anything she was tasked to do. In her later years she was often to speak about her years at St. Catherine’s, the nuns she liked and those that everyone feared but also the students she liked (like Mary Lydon (O’Malley), her lifelong friend from nearby Rock St.) and many she fondly still remembered 75 years later. 

Eventually Mary matriculated at Norwood High School to which she generally walked as no one in her family except for Mary herself ever secured a driver’s license never mind ever drove an automobile. Mary was a walker just like her mother, father, and brother, but Norwood was that type of place. In those days there was a train line into the center, a bus line and numerous grocery stores in every direction. Norwood was a good place for a child to grow up. In summers Mary would trek all the way to Walpole, Massachusetts to visit her Aunt Mamie, her mother’s sister and her cousin Sally Colbert (Leighton) who lived across from Turner’s Pond where Mary would ice skate in winter and swim in summer. Mary also ice skated in Norwood as well when weather permitted not too far from her house and where the current fire station is now. She also sometimes traveled to Portland, Maine to spend time with another member of the Irish diaspora, her cousin Babe Curran, the daughter of Coleman Curran, her father’s strong younger brother. 

Following graduation in 1945, Mary first attended Katherine Gibbs School for a year before starting her working life. An excellent typist, a strong speller and very capable at shorthand, Mary was in demand and secured a job working at the Dedham Courthouse as a legal secretary. She worked there for a few years (one of the lawyers there asked her for a date) but she was already becoming acquainted with a young man from Walpole whom she met when he, as a young taxi driver picked her up at the train station to give her a ride to her aunt’s house overlooking Turner’s Pond to go ice skating. Soon she switched jobs to Norwood and started working as a secretary at Plimpton Press where her father and brother both worked. She did that for a few years and at the same time got married in 1951 to Joseph E. Connolly of Walpole, a member of a family that had started out driving and owning taxis and ambulances but by then were branching out into owning and operating school buses.

In 1951 Mary married Joseph and the young couple made their first home together on Casey St.in Norwood. Suffering 5 miscarriages, Mary had her first child Joseph Edward Connolly Jr. in 1956 and the following year they all moved to 14 Old Post Rd. in East Walpole where they were soon joined by a second son, Steven Gerard in 1957. The following year Janice Mary joined the clan, and the family was completed. In the next few years Mary took on the role of homemaker, raising and caring for her three children, always with the welcome presence of her mother Nora who would visit by taking the MBTA bus to East Walpole and then walking across Bird Park to the house. Oftentimes she would bring groceries which usually include a large hunk of meat. It was at about this time, this early time when her children were still quite young, when her happy marriage was no longer that and she became a single mother of three, who as her husband once said, “she raised three children pretty much by herself.” It’s a true statement delivered 50 years later by Joseph Sr., but Mary did have her mother, her father and her brother Timmy and they helped. As Mary said, speaking of Joe Sr., “He wasn’t the worst guy in the world.”   She said that periodically, but she remained single the rest of her life, but she persevered.

As her children grew up and were attending Old Post Rd. School, Mary volunteered at her children’s school and later took on a paid position at that same school, working in the school office. After several years doing that, Mary left and took a job which eventually became an office manager’s position with Blanchard Building Materials in Walpole. She remained with the company through the MacMillan Bloedel buyout and eventually retired after 25 years of dedicated service and likely just as many years on the bowling team where. 

Mary was a better than 90 per string candlepin bowler with her own pretty bowling balls and monogrammed bowling ball bag.

Not divorced until 1979, Mary was a person of many talents and completed various craft projects around her home. She loved sewing, quilting, and knitting and made hats, scarves, and sweaters as well as quilts and afghans. When warmer weather came around Mary would be found in her yard, tending to a vegetable garden and weeding, always accompanied by a pet cat beside her. Her talents did not end with physical tasks as Mary liked to exercise her mind as well. She enjoyed reading The Boston Globe daily and in particular like all other members of her family did as well, was a particularly close reader of the daily obituaries. Mary also did each day’s crossword puzzle and at night always watched the quiz show Jeopardy with a cat always beside her. She was content.

Mary was a proud mother to her three children and wanted above all for them to be good people and to do well in life. Mary was especially fond of her grandchildren and enjoyed spending time with them. Mary amusingly enjoyed watching British comedy shows such as Are You Being Served and Keeping Up Appearances with her grand child Caitlin and were quite taken with laughing along with the character Hyacinth and her comedic denouements. Her younger grandchildren also experienced Mary’s proclivity for PBS television and enjoyed sitting on the couch with their grandmother and her cat(s) and living a life of candy treats and easy acceptance. She will be missed.

Mary was a loving mother to Joseph E. Connolly Jr. (who studied Architecture and Building at Wentworth Institute and is proficient and skilled in many things and a notable 1969 Chevrolet Camaro buff) and his wife Annmarie of Walpole, Steven Connolly (a sometime artist who may have graduated from Tufts University/The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) and his former wife, Sophia Yee, of Attleboro, and Janice Connolly, a Holy Cross College and George Washington School of Medicine graduate and a dabbler in home restoration and her husband, Bruce Agnew, of Beaux Arts Village, Washington.

Cherished grandmother of Caitlin Connolly and her husband, Duane Hanson Jr. of New York, Timothy, Patrick, Michael & Molly Connolly of Walpole and great grandmother of Jack and Rory Hanson of New York.

She is predeceased by her brother, Timothy P. Curran (a long-time employee of Hollingsworth and Vose, former Airforce Master Sergeant, horse racing enthusiast and who also attended Boston College), and her former husband, Joseph E. Connolly Sr., the long-time executive of Michael J. Connolly & Sons, a school bus provider to many districts.

Mary is also survived by her cousin Mary Roche, a close friend of better than 60 years who now lives in South Yarmouth, MA.

Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend Mary’s Life Celebration on Friday, April 5th, 2024, from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm in the James Delaney & Son Funeral Home at 48 Common Street, Walpole, MA.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in Saint Mary’s Church, 176 Washington Street, East Walpole on Saturday, April 62024, at 10:00 AM. Internment will take place at Highland Cemetery in Norwood.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donation in Mary’s name (Mary Esther (Curran) Connolly to

St. Catherine of Siena School at 249 Nahatan Street, Norwood, MA 02062 or by visiting https://scsnorwood.org/ways-to-give

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Esther Connolly, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, April 5, 2024

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

James H. Delaney & Son Funeral Home

48 Common St, Walpole, MA 02081

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Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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