Mrs. Joan Patricia (Main) O’Donnell died peacefully on, Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at Sophia Snow House in West Roxbury, where she had lived and been lovingly cared for since 2017. She was 89 years old.
Joan was born on December 20, 1933, the first of three children born to the late Arthur E. and Marguerite (Roche) Main of Waltham. She graduated from Saint Mary’s High School in Waltham in 1951, and Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital School of Nursing in Brighton in 1954, where she developed lifelong friends from her nursing days at St. E’s. Her dear friend and cousin-in law, Patricia McMullen, was her co-conspirator in all things nursing and in raising kids.
In eighth grade she attended a dance with the late Paul (Binky) O’Donnell, who would become the love of her life. They shared many dances together over the years and their deep and abiding love provided the strong foundation for raising a family and fulfilling their vows of supporting one another in good times and in bad. They were married for fifty-four years until dad’s passing in 2013.
Joan was the definition of caregiver, as evidenced by her years nursing, caring for family, raising four children and perhaps a bit reluctantly, a few pets over the years. She worked at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton until moving to Wilton, Connecticut in 1967. After many years running a household, she returned to work as a psychiatric nurse at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut and at Preferred Health Care in Wilton before she and Paul retired to Centerville, Mass. in 2001. Retirement on Cape Cod offered them a lifelong dream of living near the ocean, hosting visits with grandchildren and putzing.
Joan was the consummate provider and list maker. She could cook for a crowd of many at a church or school function, and easily run down the contents of her fridge in case someone was hungry. For a child of the Depression, mom’s cupboard was never empty. In her independent years since Dad’s passing, she swapped vegetables and fruit for an abundance of Hershey chocolates in her crisper drawer because, why not? And her lists?! They were many, a necessity in juggling the demands of work, wife and motherhood. In her later years, they offered comfort in keeping track of what was dear as her memory betrayed her.
Joan’s intelligence was significant, and she could provide the Latin derivative of any word, and if you asked her for help on a crossword puzzle she could rattle off 3 or 4 options with their derivation and meaning. In fairness, she was a consummate doer of crossword puzzles, preferably completed by day's end, seated right next to her husband, or on a chaise lounge near the seawall at Green Harbor, where she vacationed with her family for many, many years and where she truly was her most content.
Joan passed her many attributes down to her children, who returned the favor of nurturing and caring for her in these waning years. She is survived by her children, Tracey A. Robbins (David) of Marshfield, Paul F. O’Donnell, III of Charlestown, Amy L. O’Donnell of Kingston, and Meghan M O’Donnell (Mark Joyce) of Richmond, Vermont; her grandchildren, Christopher M. Robbins (Kimberly) of Granger, Indiana, Jennifer A. Robbins of New York, New York, Margaret C.Bozzuti (Nick Frank) of South Burlington, Vermont, Katherine M. O’Donnell of Charleston, South Carolina, Abigail G. Bozzuti of Kingston, Evan A. Joyce of Richmond, Vermont and Samuel F. Joyce of Richmond, Vermont; her great grandchild, Addison J. Robbins and many nieces, nephews and dear friends.
Joan was predeceased by her parents, her adoring husband, Paul F. O’Donnell, Jr., her sister, Eileen (Main) Geary and her husband Gerry Geary, her brother, Arthur Main, her sisters-in-law, Katherine Byrne, Mary L. Casey and her husband Thomas Casey; and her dearest friends in life, Constance Broadbent (CB) and Donald Vautour, and Paul and Dottie Curtis. Joan has a welcoming committee like no other, and it's quite possible we will hear the music from here!
Family and friends will honor and remember Joan’s life by gathering for calling hours in The Joyce Funeral Home, 245 Main Street (Rte. 20), Waltham on Friday, August 18th from 4 to 7 p.m. and again at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning before leaving in procession to Saint Mary’s Church, 133 School Street, Waltham where her Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Waltham.
Joan’s family is comforted by the incomparable care provided by the staff at Sophia Snow House. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to Sophia Snow House, 1215 Centre Street, West Roxbury, MA 02132 or by visiting www.sophiasnowplace.org/donations