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Francis X. Connolly

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Francis X. Connolly Obituary
Francis X. Connolly, 91

HOLYOKE -- Francis Xavier Connolly, 91, a man of honor and integrity, passed away on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at the Holyoke Soldiers Home.

Born on December 6, 1922 in Leominster, Massachusetts, Francis was the fourth child of Joseph Charles Connolly and Mary Ellen Courtney.

At the age of thirteen, Francis landed on the front page of the Leominster Daily Enterprise, a hero for rushing to the aid of two boys drowning. After graduating from Leominster High School, he was again in the paper, this time in a letter to the editor, reporting on the War in the Pacific from the decks of the USS Pasadena. The cruiser, which survived kamikaze attack and typhoon, engaged off the coasts of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Formosa, the Philippines, Indochina, and Tokyo. After his wartime duties ended, Francis returned to employment at Independent Lock, where he was a skilled machinist by trade. For almost thirty years he served as a shop steward at the factory, upholding the union contract, advocating for his co-workers, and mediating disputes. When Independent Lock relocated out of state in the mid-seventies, and with few machinist jobs to be had, Francis and his wife, Claire, together, thought it through, then studied hard, passed their realty exams, and became successful realtors.

Francis thrived on the hubbub of everyday life; he enjoyed people, his hearty laugh often in evidence. With disarming directness he would praise friend or stranger for signs of character or for good deeds observed. He never compromised core values like honesty. With forthright decency he would call out mean behaviors whenever and wherever. Sure of his beliefs, humble, strong, compassionate, kind… Francis led by example.

Francis loved the ocean and the memories it held for him. He loved dogs. He was a huge fan of Holy Cross basketball back in the day and a Red Sox fan through thick and thin. He loved the excitement of a neck 'n neck horse race, the energy of a lively card game, the give and take of heated political talk, the punch line of a Sunday comic strip. He took great pride and joy in his children and his grandchildren. But most of all Francis loved Claire, and she loved him. Sugar and Baby: their life together a rare and beautiful romance.

Surrounded by family and friends, Francis Connolly thought himself a very rich man. Indeed he was.

Francis is predeceased by his loving wife of 59 years, Claire Agnes St. Jean Connolly; as well as his siblings: Dorothy O'Donnell, Norman Connolly, and Rita Ordway.

Francis is survived by his son, Joseph Connolly, and his wife, Karen Hakala; his daughter, Mary-Lou Blanchard, and her husband, George Blanchard; his grandson, William Connolly, and his wife, Christina Stock; his granddaughter, Jeannie Hakala; his sister Irene Connolly; his brother Donald Connolly; his brother-in-law Robert St. Jean, and his wife, Claire; his sister-in-law Dorothy (Laura) St. Jean; and many, many nieces, nephews and friends. A special thanks to caretakers Bill Wells, Brenda McDermott, Pat Swett, and to the wonderful staff at several care centers.

Francis was an active volunteer with the Senior Center in Lunenburg and volunteered regularly to staff election polling sites. He was last a communicant at St. Camillus de Lellis.

CONNOLLY -- There will be a memorial Mass for Francis Xavier Connolly on Monday, February 3, at 11 a.m. in St. Cecilia's Church, 180 Mechanic St., Leominster. In lieu of flowers, donations in Francis Connolly's name may be made to , 480 Pleasant Street Watertown, MA 02472, the Holyoke Soldiers Home, 110 Cherry St., Holyoke, MA 01040, or Our Father's House, 199 Summer St., Fitchburg, MA 01420. The Brandon Funeral Home, 305 Wanoosnoc Rd., Fitchburg is assisting the family with the funeral arrangements.

Published in Sentinel & Enterprise on Jan. 31, 2014
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