William T. “Bill” O’Donnell, 84, of Woonsocket, RI, formerly of Somerville and Boston, MA, died on April 18, 2019. Loving husband for 50 years of Jean (McKenna) O’Donnell, father of Erin Catherine and son-in-law Aaron Hoban, and grandfather of Aidan Araujo. Brother of Philip of Mashpee, MA, James of Boston, and the late Steven O’Donnell, and sisters-in-law Marilynn Gove O’Donnell and Carol Webster Blair, and nieces and nephews representing two generations. Son of the late William Sr. and Anne (Flaherty) O’Donnell.
Born in Boston, he was an active member of the Irish community, traveling often for both business and pleasure to Ireland. A member during his lifetime in a number of Irish-American charitable and cultural organizations, he was a past president and life member of the Eire Society of Boston, a member of the Irish Cultural Center and The Charitable Irish Society, and was also the treasurer and a board member of the Belfast (NI) – based nonprofit corporation, Intercomm, USA. During the 1980 presidential campaign he was a senior press aide to Independent presidential candidate, Congressman John B. Anderson.
He was a proud citizen of the United States and Ireland. During most of the historic, tumultuous decade of the eighties covering local protests, hunger strikes in Ireland and the Anglo-Irish Agreement, he was the Editor of the Irish Echo weekly newspaper in Boston. In the late 80s he joined the Boston Redevelopment Authority as Community Relations Manager. In 1995 he retired from the BRA and later spent three years as an ADR case manager and arbitration analyst for John Hancock Financial Services. For many years he was involved in organizing Boston-based job training programs benefiting young people from both traditions in Ireland, north and south. He served from 1995 to 1998 as president and CEO of Boston Ireland Ventures, a nonprofit corporation working to stimulate inward investment, development and job creation in Ireland. For the past 25 years he wrote a regular newspaper column for the Boston Irish community, and for the past twenty years he contributed a monthly column “Here & There” to New England’s largest circulating newspaper serving an Irish American readership, the Boston Irish Reporter of Dorchester.
He attended St. Clement schools, Medford and graduated from Somerville High School. He attended Suffolk University and Boston State College. He was a US Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War.
His funeral will be held Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 11 AM from the Holt Funeral Home, 510 South Main St., Woonsocket, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 12 PM in St. Charles Church, 8 Daniels St., Woonsocket. Burial will follow in Resurrection Cemetery, West Wrentham Road, Cumberland. Calling hours will be held on Monday from 4-7 PM in the funeral home. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the New Beginnings Soup Kitchen, 323 Rathbun St., Woonsocket, RI 02895.
All Saints Church
323 Rathbun St., Woonsocket RI 02895