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BEVERLY - Mary Ellen (McNulty) MacDonald passed peacefully on January 10, 2024 surrounded by the love of her family. Born September 29, 1944 in Lynn, MA to Mary V. (Cannon) and Martin F. McNulty, Mary Ellen was the oldest of five siblings by whom she was loved and admired.
She attended Sacred Heart Parochial School through junior high and an active member in the parish. At the age of 14 Mary Ellen was honored with being named Queen of the May. For the next four years Mary Ellen taught Sunday School as well as tutored children with intellectual disabilities in preparation to receive their First Communion.
At Lynn Classical High School, there were few clubs or activities that Mary Ellen was not in. She was a class officer at a time when such was uncommon for girls. She was in Girl Scouts, on stage and behind the scenes in plays, participated in the Model U. N., wrote for the school magazine as well as articles for the local Lynn Item newspaper, was active on committees for dances and events, earned an award and was in the science club. In her Senior year, Mary Ellen was awarded the Daughters of The American Revolution Good Citizenship Award which is given to someone who strongly exhibits specific characteristic qualities to an outstanding degree. The recipient is chosen by taking a poll of the entire student body as well as faculty. Numerous extracurricular activities did not keep her from maintaining top grades and high honors. Mary Ellen’s high school success earned her some small academic scholarships but she otherwise worked to put herself through college as she commuted from home. She earned her degree in Bachelor of Arts, at the College of Liberal Arts at Boston University.
Not long after graduation Mary Ellen was married and moved to Columbia, Missouri. It was the early years of President Lyndon Johnson’s, new “War on Poverty” initiative. Fresh out of college, Mary Ellen interviewed and was hired for a high responsibility job with Boone County Human Relations Center as supervisor of three county boards of War on Poverty workers and thirteen caseworkers including acting as counselor to those caseworkers. The mission was to find and uplift the poor by directing and assisting them toward multiple new aid programs. Upon returning to Massachusetts, the young couple settled in Lynn, Nahant and Swampscott where they raised three children.
While raising young children, Mary Ellen worked part-time as a Realtor, Real Estate Appraiser, Special-Education Teacher and a few other jobs. She later returned to Social Work and spent the remainder of her career as a caseworker and adoption worker with the Department of Children and Family Services. While working she also took courses at night at Salem State University. In her 50s she returned to school yet again and earned a law degree from New England School of Law with the hope that it would aide her in her work. She was somewhat of a mentor to the many younger colleagues who learned from and admired her no-nonsense attitude and ability to maintain her wonderful sense of humor in a stressful and emotional field of work. She was a dedicated and devoted advocate for “her kids” and often treated them to lunch or brought them toys, clothing, or anything they needed.
A past member of Division 10 Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Mary Ellen was proud of her Irish ancestry. She collected old books about Ireland, enjoyed Irish music and loved gathering with her large extended family. Mary Ellen retired early due to medical issues and moved to Naples, FL where for several years she worked for Visiting Angels helping local senior citizens. She loved to go antique shopping and collect antique dolls with some connection to her heritage, childhood or places she lived. Mary Ellen was an avid reader and spent many days lost in one of her books enjoying the balmy FL temperatures on her lanai as well as wrote some poetry. She enjoyed hosting visits from friends and family and especially loved showing and teaching her grandchildren and youngest nephew about the local culture and wildlife.
Mary Ellen lived a life of service to helping those less fortunate. She was very social, made friends easily and remained close to her many lifelong friends. She loved to laugh, dance and have fun and had a great sense of humor. Any suffering was offered up. Mary Ellen was not easily bothered or upset rather, she remained calm and trusted in God that things would work out.
Mary Ellen will be dearly missed by her three children, Lauren (Jason Divins) MacDonald of Georgetown, MA, Jane (Thomas) Cote of Salem, MA, John (Tracy) MacDonald of Leawood, KS. She is remembered by her cherished grandchildren, Morgan and Paige MacDonald and Aaron and Alex Cote. She also leaves siblings, Patricia Hourihan, Dennis (Donna) McNulty, Jane (Kevin) Kennedy, Ann (Stephen O’Malley) McNulty and many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins. Mary was predeceased by her brother, Martin J. McNulty.
ARRANGEMENTS: Relatives and friends are invited to attend Mary Ellen’s funeral service which will be held at O’Donnell Cremations – Funerals – Celebration, 84 Washington Sq., (at Salem Common) SALEM on Friday, January 19th at 12 NOON. Visiting hours prior to her service from 10 A.M. to 12 NOON. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in remembrance to The Wonderfund (https://wonderfundma.org/donate). To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit www.odonnellfuneralservice.com.