Mary Margaret (Kelly) McDonald, who was born on June 10, 1931 in Waterbury, died at 88 on May 18, 2020 in Southbury after a long illness. She was the only child of Maud Galvin and John Fitzgerald Kelly. Mary attended elementary school in the Waterville section of Waterbury before attending Crosby High School, where on the yearbook staff she met her late husband, Francis M. McDonald. Although Mary was a resident of Middlebury for over 60 years, she was a proud native of Waterbury, the city where she received a fine upbringing and also formed many life-long friendships. She earned her undergraduate degree, as well as her Master’s degree from St. Joseph’s College in West Hartford. Later in life, while teaching at Post College, Mary received her doctorate in early childhood education from the University of Connecticut. She began her long and distinguished teaching career at Sprague School, the same elementary school she had attended. When her children were in high school, Mary returned to work as the director of St. George’s nursery school in Middlebury where she enjoyed teaching with her dear friend Jane Neale. Subsequently she became a professor of early childhood education and director of the nursery school at Post College.
A consummate teacher, Mary began her career as a kindergarten teacher and ended it as a college professor where she mentored generations of teachers of young children with whom she shared her wise counsel and years of experience. She treated young children like the people that they were and appreciated their natural artistic side as well as their unique perspective. It was clear to her that we could learn a lot about our world if we listened to what these small beings had to say.
Mary met her husband Frank in high school; they were together as a couple for 70 years before his death in October 2018. She was his confidante in all matters, personal and professional. Mary supported her husband throughout his long and challenging career in public service. She was also Frank’s traveling and dining companion. Together they enjoyed spending time in Vermont, Maine, and the Berkshires. They also traveled to France with their friends the Dellacortes and later to Italy with their family. Mary enjoyed discovering fine restaurants in improbable places as well as dining in her favorite spots close to home. She and Frank loved to watch the sunset at the Highfield Club where they engaged in many lively conversations. At home Mary was a talented hostess who welcomed friends, family, and her children’s friends with grace and conviviality. She had many profound relationships with family and friends, from high school to college, work and beyond, with whom she loved to laugh.
Mary instilled in her children the importance of education, and encouraged them to find their own paths to success in life. She was an intellectual who loved to read, and who enjoyed meeting others whose lives diverged from her own. Mary insisted on honesty. A humble person, she taught her children to appreciate those who were in the service of others. She was an extraordinarily considerate grandmother and mother-in-law who thought long and hard about the best possible present for each person in the family. Mary gave the gift of time by babysitting, or taking her grandchildren out to meals, or attending recitals and plays. She loved and believed in all 7 of her grandchildren and relished hearing about their plans for the future or about something that happened at school. But mostly Mary listened to what the younger generation had to say; she was adept at that.
Mary practiced her Catholic faith at St. Anthony’s of Padua church in Litchfield where she enjoyed the spirited homilies of Father Tucker. She leaves her three beloved children and their spouses, Michael (Deirdre) McDonald of Middlebury, Mary Ann (James) Carolan of Woodbridge, and John (Stephanie) McDonald of Woodbury, as well as seven adoring grandchildren: Maria Carolan, Anna Carolan, Erin McDonald, Brittany McDonald, Lindsey McDonald, Sam McDonald and Ellie McDonald as well as many nieces and nephews, her cousin Ellen Kelly Reisman, brothers-in-law, John McDonald and Vincent McDonald, and sister-in-law Julie McDonald. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her sisters-in-law Jane Ferris McDonald, Jane Kerrigan McDonald, Elise Edholm McDonald, Barbara Brucato McDonald, and Eileen McCarthy McDonald as well as brothers-in-law Daniel McDonald, James McDonald, and Paul McDonald. Mary had many dear friends who enriched her life and supported her especially after the death of her husband. The family is grateful to them, as well as to Pat Freemantle, the staff at The Villa at Watermark in Southbury, and especially Lisa Ford, nurses and aides from Regional Hospice, and Visiting Angels Marga Rowe and Anabel Maitland.
Donations in Mary’s memory may be made to the Mattatuck Museum (63 Prospect Street, Waterbury, CT 06702) on whose board she served for many years.
Burial will be private. A memorial Mass will be celebrated in honor of Mary’s life at a future date. Munson Lovetere Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements. To leave an online condolence please visit www.munsonloveterefuneralhome.com
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63 Prospect Street, Waterbury CT 06702