Formerly of Somerville
Grace O’Donnell, 90, formerly of Somerville, New Jersey, died on Sunday, March 25th after a long illness.
Born in Camden, New Jersey, on December 29, 1921, Grace was the first child born on American soil to Stefano and Guiseppe Palumbo, Italian immigrants who had arrived from Sicily two years before.
One of eight children, Grace was raised and went to school in Camden. Growing up during the depression instilled in her values that would serve her well throughout her years: family, hard work, generosity and the importance of a well-made pasta sauce!
This flare for cooking sent Grace, after high school, to work with her sister and brother-in-law who ran a resturant in Camden. It was there that she met chef Lawrence O’Donnell, a charming Irishman, who swept her off her feet. They married in 1943 and over a span of twenty-three years, they had six children. They lived in both Plainfield and Scotch Plains before settling in Somerville in the late sixties.
In addition to her home life, Grace had a fulfilling career. She worked for many years at RCA in Bridgewater, and later worked for more than twenty years at Ethicon in the quality assurance department, before retiring in the early nineties. At work she was known for her integrity, strong work ethic and her compassion for others. At Christmastime each year, for days she toiled making an assembly line of cookies so that everyone in her circle could have something special for the holidays.
After her husband passed away and her children had grown, Grace enjoyed retirement by finding time for newfound interests, such as traveling and the joys of being a grandmother—and later a great-grandmother. She found renewal in a deeping of her Catholic faith, as well as enjoyment in life’s simple pleasures, such as laughing over a good romantic comedy or rooting for her beloved Mets. Grace was truly blessed with a long, healthy and wonderful life.
Grace is preceedeed in death by her husband Lawrence O’Donnell and her seven siblings. She leaves behind her six children: Ellen Spingler of Watchung, Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr. of Annandale, Thomas O’Donnell of Boston, Mass., Mary J. Johnson of Madison, Wisc., Janet O’Donnell of North Chemlsford, Mass. and Nancy Smith of Sea Girt. She also leaves behind eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 am on Saturday March 31st at the Immaculate Conception Chuch, 35 Mountain Avenue, Somerville. Interment to follow at Church cemetery. Visiting hours 7pm-9pm on Friday, March 30th at the Cusick Funeral Home, Somerville.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice Foundation of America or Alzheimer’s Association.