OBITUARY

Mary Ruth Donahue

March 30, 1930November 16, 2021
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Mary Ruth Donahue, 91, office manager/receptionist for decades at Brother Rice High School in Chicago, died of heart complications on November 16 in Libertyville.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26, at McGann & Sons Funeral Home, 10727 S. Pulaski Road, Chicago. The funeral will be on Saturday, Nov. 27 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Germaine Catholic Church in Oak Lawn. A family graveside service will take place at noon on Monday, Nov. 29, in Cullom, Ill. Born March 30, 1930, Mary Ruth Carney was the only child of Mary and Thomas Carney. Home was a family farm near the small town of Chatsworth in Central Illinois. Later, the family left the farm behind and moved to Chatsworth to run a tavern. Life wasn’t easy, and she learned early on the value of hard work. At age 11, it was time for another move—to Chicago.

Adapting to her new world was rocky at first, but she did her best. After graduating from Loretto Academy, she met a tall, handsome man who had grown up near her hometown. The man was E. James “Jim” Donahue. They were married in 1952 and raised five children in their Oak Lawn home. Space and money were tight in those early years, especially as they made room for aging parents. Ever the hard worker, Mary balanced caregiving, child-rearing and work at a few jobs before landing at Brother Rice High School, just down the street from home.

As office manager and receptionist, she thrived in a place that valued multitasking before the term was invented. Mary could offer a kind word to a struggling student, a sharp word to a troublemaker, and make it clear to the administration that she deserved respect. Mary was no pushover. Brothers and fellow staffers at Brother Rice became lifelong friends.

While Mary worked hard, she and Jim made time for fun, too, and their house was a social hub for friends and family. It didn’t hurt that she was a great cook, and no one left hungry. Church was a key part of her life. Mary and Jim were founding members of St. Germaine Parish, and Mary volunteered for many years with COURAGE, an organization providing support for women facing unexpected pregnancies.

Mary and Jim enjoyed traveling, especially to visit children and grandchildren in California, Colorado, and Iowa over the years.

No outside food or drinks allowed, and masks are required by the Illinois State mandate.

Services

  • Visitation

    Friday, November 26, 2021

  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Saturday, November 27, 2021

  • Graveside

    Monday, November 29, 2021

Memories

Mary Ruth Donahue

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Jim Cunningham

December 2, 2021

On behalf of my late Mother, Mary Therese (O’Connell) Cunningham, I wish to offer condolences to the Family of Mary Ruth Donahue on the loss of your Mother. Our Mothers became friends in high school and remained so for life. Whenever I picture Mrs. Donahue it is always with her big beautiful radiant smile.

With sympathy,
Jim Cunningham

Tom Doherty

November 29, 2021

Great Lady

Dorothy Deany

November 24, 2021

I remember visiting Uncle Tom, Aunt Mary, Mary Ruth and their next door neighbors, the Stranigans in their 3rd floor walk-ups on 63rd Street in Chicago in the early 50s. My sister Ellen had to visit a Chicago doctor for impetigo, and we visited our relatives when making the trip to Chicago. I loved seeing and occasionally riding on the street cars.

Lots of good memories of many years ago. So sorry for your loss.

Br. Charles Gattone

November 22, 2021

Even looking at Mary's picture makes me smile! She added so much to the spirit of Brother Rice. Whenever I had the opportunity to interview prospective teachers, they first had to pass Mary's test If she gave me a certain look, it meant no!

Whenever I am back in Chicago, I tried to have lunch with Mary each summer. We met again this past summer with Dorene Glotz and Mary Ceh. Mary's infectious laugh was still a source of delight for us.

Heaven has a new receptionist! God bless you, Mary! And may God console your family.

David Chocola

November 19, 2021

As entering Brother Rice High School in 1973, as an afraid Freshman in a school over a capacity of over 2000 students, her smile and caring made everything seem alright. I made sure to pass by the main office daily just to see her smile of comfort. What a Blessed Lady that touched so many lives.

Br James McDonald

November 18, 2021

We worked together for 15 years. We were both born on March 30, albiet 14 years apart. Mary, you will be missed. Rest well!

Dave Goss

November 18, 2021

May God Bless Mrs. Donahue and watch over all of us from your seat in Heaven....My freshman year at Brother Rice was also her first year,but she got to stay and help many young men that followed.

Joni Clifford-Kazaras

November 18, 2021

I am so sorry for your loss. Your Mom was a very special women. Although she busted us a lot for doing things we shouldn't, LOL, I am very thankful she was looking out for us. Your Mom will always be a very special part of my childhood memories. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful & beautiful women with us and the world. Sincerely, Joni Clifford- Kazaras , Lori Wasik & Steven Clifford

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