Mary and Joe Connolly of Naugatuck will be honored as this year's co-Irish Mayors for the Day this Sunday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day.
The day's events include mass at 11:30 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 318 Church St., followed by a 1 p.m. program at the Portuguese Club, 110 Rubber Ave. The public is invited to attend.
The following is biographical information of Mary and Joe Connolly as provided by Kevin Knowles:
Mary and Joseph Connolly recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They were married at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Waterbury and have lived and raised their family in Naugatuck since 1962. They are the proud parents of five children; Joe and Paula Connolly of Middlebury, Christine Harrison of Naugatuck, Kathie and Paul Michaud of Conover, North Carolina, Mauralee Connolly of Waterbury, and Francis and Melissa Connolly of Cheshire. They have 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Mary (Hanlon) Connolly was born in Waterbury. Her parents were Daniel Hanlon from County Limerick and Sheila (Harrington) Hanlon from County Cork. Mary attended Saints Peter and Paul grammar school, Crosby High School, and graduated from Cardinal Cushing College in Brookline, MA with an Associates Degree in Business.
Joe Connolly was born in Waterbury to Thomas Connolly & Mary (Whalen) Connolly. Their Irish heritage traces to Counties Cork and Killarney. Joe attended Prospect Street School and graduated from Naugatuck High School. He graduated from the University of Connecticut and has been a “True Blue” Husky since then. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in education from Fairfield University, and completed additional studies at the University of Bridgeport and Drexel University.
Joe joined the United States Navy in 1951, at the start of the Korean War. He served in the Western Pacific for nearly five years, and continued for 24 years in the Naval Reserves, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander.
Joe had a long and successful career in education, beginning at Central Avenue School, followed by Hillside Middle School. In 1972 he moved to City Hill Middle School, where he became principal in 1976. He retired in 1992, after dedicating 42 years to the children and families of Naugatuck.
Mary spent nearly 20 years raising their family, happily engaged in family rituals such as skiing at Mohawk, camping in Rhode Island, and vacationing at a second home in Vermont. Music, sports, and community activities were an important part of everyday life. During this time four of the five Connolly children were recipients of AOH Scholarships to participate in the Irish Way, a cultural program that immerses American High School students in Irish Culture.
As her children grew, Mary embarked upon her career, beginning at the Waterbury Republican. She took a position at the United Way of the Central Naugatuck Valley, where she worked for 10 years. In 1989, she became Executive Director of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls. During her tenure the agency enjoyed significant growth in donations and volunteers, and Mary became recognized as an enthusiastic and effective champion of local causes. Upon her retirement in 1999, the United Way established the Mary H. Connolly Community Caring Award in her honor.
Mary remains active in the United Way. She is also a member and past President of the Rotary Club, a member and past President of the Naugatuck Women’s Study Club, and is currently Chairman of the Board of the Naugatuck Valley Health District.
Mary and Joe are active parishioners at Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, where Joe is organist and choir director and Mary is a member of the choir. Joe is also a charter member and active singer with the Connecticut Choral Society, served on the Community Advisory Board of the Chemtura Company, and is a member of the Waterbury Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Mary and Joe enjoy celebrating their Irish Heritage through their family, faith, and culture today and throughout the year. They are honored to be named Naugatuck’s Irish Mayor for 2013.