October 1, 1942 ~ May 11, 2022 (age 79)

Death notice

McDONNELL, ROBERT S. (“Bob”) of Jamaica Plain, passed May 11th. Bob leaves his son Jack McDonnell and daughter-in-law Monica Tovar, also of Jamaica Plain; his grandchildren Daniel (Danny) and Anna McDonnell; his former wife Christine Harrison Spalding and her daughter Heather Timilty; as well as numerous cousins. Bob was the son of the late Walter F. McDonnell and the late Johanna F (Krul) McDonnell. His younger brother John of Falls Church, Virginia passed away in 2016. Born in Boston in October 1942, he grew up in Boston and Stoughton, Mass. He served as an air traffic controller in the US Navy during the Vietnam era and shared many stories of his time serving in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. He earned two degrees at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he met Christine, whom he married in 1974.

Bob was a loving father to Jack and his pride in his grandchildren was limitless.

The Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston had been his home since 1980, and he exuded civic passion in his community. Putting aside his pride in his family, he was most proud of contributing to the design of the Southwest Corridor Park, which came to exist at the demand of an organized community who with a clear voice claimed back public land and created urban green space in the 1980s. With Jamaica Plain historian Michael Reiskind and others he organized an annual “Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Cleanup,” which encouraged residents to pick up brooms, shovels and trash bags for a day each year to brighten up our streets. He believed in activism in our political system: he lent his voice in support of numerous candidates for elected offices; on any given Election Day one could find him outside the polls reminding them of the name of the candidate he supported. In countless other ways, his passion for our community spanned his years.

He loved thoughtful, analytical conversation and debate. On any topic, he had abundant questions and no shortage of opinions. Among his favorite hobbies was his love for writing letters to the editor of the local Jamaica Plain Gazette.

Bob’s favorite spot was his parents’ cottage on Long Lake in Naples, Maine. He would frequently spend summers there during his retirement, enjoying the sunsets behind Mount Washington. His ashes will be scattered in Long Lake by his family in the coming weeks.

A Family Gathering will take place at Mann Rodgers Funeral Home, 44 Perkins Street, Jamaica Plain on SUNDAY, JUNE 5th from 3 - 5 pm. Relatives and friends are warmly invited and encouraged to share their memories.

Gifts may be made in Bob’s name to Ethos at

Interment is private per family request.

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