The Belle Isle Marsh and town residents were saddened on Monday morning to learn that Conservation
Commissioner and teacher Mary (Shaughnessy) Kelley, passed away peacefully at Massachusetts General Hospital, just a week after the town dedicated the new Mary Kelley Pavilion at Belle Isle Marsh off Morton Street.
“It’s a terrible loss for Winthrop,” said Norm Hyett, chairman of the Conservation Commission. “She has been a guardian of the environment for 46 years. She did an outstanding job abiding by the law. The commission will carry on with the high goals she set for us.”
Kelley, 81 years old, was a retired schoolteacher. She has served on the Conservation Commission as a member and the chairperson for 46 years.
She worked on the entire beach project permitting process, the construction of three new schools and Miller Field, airport expansion, the creation of Belle Isle Marsh Reservation by the old MDC and more recently the addition of the Zoppo property, now called the Kilmartin Path, and the Bonacorso property, now called the Belle Isle Marine Ecology Park, the DEP Emergency Declaration, which allowed houseboats at Atlantis Marina, and lots more, according to Barbara Bishop, from Friends of the Belle Isle Marsh.
“Mary Kelley dedicated her life to serving the community and I am saddened by her death,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. “I take some comfort in that as a community we had a chance to honor her in person last week with the dedication of the Belle Isle Marine Ecology Park Pavilion in her name. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Karen Winn, a member of the Winthrop Conservation Commission, noted Kelley’s work on the Corinha Beach legal battle.
“One of Mary’s greatest concerns was that each and every project be properly maintained in perpetuity by the property owner, MWRA, DCR, Town of Winthrop, all the yacht clubs, to preserve Winthrop’s beautiful resources,” Winn said.
Town Clerk Carla Vitale, who worked with Kelley on numerous occasions, posted online that Kelley was passionate about the things she cared about.
“She always did what was in the best interest in Winthrop. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Kelley and her family,” Vitale said.
“The Friends of Belle Isle Marsh are grateful for Mary Kelley’s service to the Town for 46 years as protector and advocate for Belle Isle Marsh, Winthrop Beach, Lewis Lake, Yirrell Beach and all open spaces within the town confines. Mary presided over Conservation Commission meetings with her thorough knowledge of the wetland protection laws and was respectful, firm and fair to everyone. Whether it was a $25 million DCR Winthrop Beach revitalization project or a homeowner’s dock, Mary reviewed thousands of permit requests. The Friends of Belle Isle Marsh are thankful for her thoughtful leadership and work ethic.”
“On a more personal note, I knew ‘Mrs. Kelley’ as a no-nonsense, yet fair and kind teacher in my elementary school where she touched and enriched many young lives. I was also lucky enough to bowl with her last year at the Cottage Park Yacht Club, where she enjoyed a full season. She will be sorely missed by all. Mary Kelley made the Town a better place,” said Daniela Foley, past president of the Friends of Belle Isle Marsh.
Mary was born in Winchester and was the beloved daughter of the late Edna (Rooney) and Walter Shaughnessy. A resident of Winthrop for over 55 years, she was employed as a school teacher for the Winthrop Public Schools for many years until her retirement. She was very active in civic affairs in the town of Winthrop.
She was a member and chairperson of the Winthrop Conservation Committee, the Winthrop Public Library, the Winthrop Historical Society and the Cottage Park Yacht Club Ladies Bowling League. Just prior to Mary’s passing she was honored with the new pavilion at the Belle Isle Marsh Marine Ecology Park and Walking Pathway off Morton Street being named after her.
She was the devoted wife of the late John B. Kelley and the loving mother of Laura Miguel of Westerly, R.I., John B. Kelley, III of Lebanon, Conn., Philip Kelley and his partner Adelina of Winthrop and the late Carolyn E. Kelley. Dear sister of Walter Shaughnessy and his wife Joan of Pocasett and the late William Shaughnessy. Sister in law of Thomas and Joan Kelley of Somerville. Cherished grandmother of Kelley Rose, Philip David, Claire and Grace. Also survived by dear family friends the Wynter Family, Neil Flemming and many nieces and nephews.
Family and friends are cordially invited to attend the visitation from the Caggiano Funeral Home on Sunday, Sept. 9, from 4 to 8 p.m. The funeral will be conducted from the funeral home on Monday, Sept. 10, at 9 a.m. followed by a funeral mass at St. John the Evangelist Church 320 Winthrop St., Winthrop, at 10 a.m. Interment to follow the mass in the Belle Isle section of Winthrop Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Winthrop Public Library 2 Metcalf Square, Winthrop, MA 02152 or to Friends of Belle Isle Marsh to P.O. Box 575, East Boston, MA 02128.