Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly age 66, of Arlington, Massachusetts, passed away Sunday, April 2nd surrounded by his family, from a brain tumor he had courageously battled for 8 months.
Senator Donnelly represented the 4th Middlesex district including Arlington, Burlington, Billerica, Woburn and Lexington, precincts 1, 2, and 4 thru 7. Prior to serving in the Massachusetts Senate, Senator Donnelly was a firefighter for 37 years in the Town of Lexington, and legislative agent and the secretary treasurer of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts. Senator Donnelly leaves behind his loving wife of 47 years, Judy; his beloved children Ryan and his wife Sabrina, Keith and his wife Melissa, and Brenna and her husband Jason; his 5 grandchildren Luke, Jonah, Coben, Jack and Layla; his brothers Paul, Rusty and John and the late Albert and Steven; sisters and brothers-in law; nieces and nephews; and a large extended family and group of friends who loved and admired him.
Ken was happiest when cooking for his family and friends with his daughter Brenna, hiking the white mountains with Ryan, watching and playing sports with Keith, traveling across the country with his wife Judy, and spending time with his grandchildren in his favorite spots in New Hampshire and Maine. He was an avid reader of history and historical fiction, and had a passion for politics. Everything he did, he did with all his energy and heart and there was no challenge too great to overcome.
Ken was known to all who knew him first and foremost for his devotion to his family and as a fighter for those without a voice. Throughout his career, he fought to save others, protect the most vulnerable in our society, and give voice to working men and women across the Commonwealth. He was a staunch believer in the role of unions and government to protect workers, and he was well known for his efforts to advance justice and equality for all people no matter their race, religion, national origin, or sexual identification. As such, he treated all with whom he met with dignity and respect, and over the many years he worked as both a union negotiator and state legislator, he earned back in return the respect and admiration of both his allies and his adversaries. Senator Donnelly championed many causes during his career, from increasing access and quality to mental health services for all; to funding for workforce training for the unemployed and underemployed; to more protections for homeless families and retirees on fixed incomes; to women’s’ access to healthcare; and to the creation of a criminal justice system that was fair for all.
Through all these diverse efforts, Senator Donnelly never sought the accumulation of personal credit; but rather he was dedicated to the causes he believed in and the people he represented, and he brought his tremendous energy, courage, and passion to changing many lives for the better.
Visiting hours will be held at Arlington Town Hall Auditorium, 730 Massachusetts Avenue, April 7, 2017 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at St Eulalia Parish, 50 Ridge Street, Winchester, on Saturday morning, April 8, 2017, at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to: Arlington Youth Counseling Services, 670R Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476 or Appalachian Mountain Club Youth Opportunities Program, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA, 02108 or Greater Boston Legal Services, 197 Friend Street, Boston, MA, 02114. Arrangements under the care of DeVito Funeral Home, 1145 Mass. Ave., ARLINGTON. For online condolences visit, devitofuneralhomes.com.
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