Mary A. (Shaw) Donnelly


BLOCK ISLAND — Mary Donnelly passed away peacefully at her home on May 12, 2022, surrounded by her loving family. Mary was 94 years old, born December 14, 1927, to Frank and Rosina Shaw of Olyneville.
Mary is survived by her brother, Robert Shaw of Olyneville; 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 island and Mary became the State Visiting Nurse. With 4 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 to 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 Award for her outstanding dedication to parish service.
She was featured in The New York Times, Rhode Island Catholic, 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. In 2021, she was honored by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin with a Lumen Gentium Award in Community Service and Charitable Outreach.
She traveled the world, and was blessed by the Pope, but Mary’s greatest joy were her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial was held Saturday, May 21, at St. Andrews Church, Chapel Street, followed by a graveside service.
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 PO Box 323 Block Island RI 02807.