Joseph E Connolly, Sr. Age 92, of Natick, MA, passed away peacefully in his home on May 23, 2020, surrounded by family, friends and his companion. Joe, son of the late Michael J Connolly and Irene Connolly of Walpole, MA, was a graduate of Walpole High School where he enjoyed playing football for the Hilltoppers as a guard. His love of Walpole High School football remained with him throughout his life and as one of its most avid lifelong fans, he never missed a game.
Joe is survived by his brother Leo Connolly of Walpole, his ex-wife Mary Connolly of Walpole, his son Joseph E Connolly, Jr. and his wife Ann Marie of Walpole, Steven Connolly and his wife Sophia Yee of Attleboro, Janice Connolly and her husband Bruce Henew of Beaux Arts Village, Washington, and his companion Judy Klein of Natick. He leaves five grandchildren and two great grandchildren, Caitlin Connolly and her husband Duane Hanson of New York, Timothy Connolly of Walpole, Patrick Connolly of Walpole, Molly Connolly of Walpole, Michael Connolly of Walpole, Jack Hanson of New York and Rory Hanson of New York. He was the brother of the late Marguerite MacAulay, the late Robert Connolly, the late Paul Connolly, and the late James Connolly.
Joe served in the US Army from 1953 – 1955 during the Korean conflict. He was proud of his military service and received an Honorable Discharge.
Joe returned to civilian life by taking over the operation of the Michael J Connolly bus company as president for the last 66 years. He was a shrewd businessman and through determination and hard work, Joe was able to grow the business from a very small bus, taxi, ambulance and transportation operation to one that services 15 school districts in Eastern Massachusetts. He never lost focus and would do whatever it took to satisfy the customer. His students came first and he was proud of his record of never missing a run. It was not unusual to see Joe behind the wheel of a school bus when the need arose. Joe was a humble man who never forgot his roots, he often introduced himself to his drivers and the school officials simply as “Hi I’m Joe the Bus Driver”.
Joe treated his over 300 drivers like family. He understood the need to get the job done but was a soft touch to give a driver time off if they needed it, often filling in for them himself. His often stated desire was for the company to continue on for his children and grandchildren. He positioned the company to carry on but Joe will be greatly missed by all.
As a result of the ongoing health crisis in the world and our community and with genuine concern for the well-being of all involved, Joe’s family has decided that his funeral services will be private. Interment will take place in Saint Francis Cemetery in Walpole. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Walpole Gridiron Boosters, P.O. Box 92, Walpole, MA 02081.
Arrangements by James H. Delaney & Son Funeral Home, Walpole.