Dorothy Fay Donnelly

March 9, 1930 ~ December 23, 2020 (age 90)


DONNELLY, Dorothy F., of Providence, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, December 23, 2020. Born in Pawtucket, she was the daughter of the late John Donnelly and Gladys (Breslin) Donnelly. Dorothy worked at Bell Telephone Company for a number of years in order to put herself through college. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island (B.A.), Brown University (M.A.) and Brandeis University (Ph.D.), Dorothy went on to spend over four tireless decades as an English Professor at the University of Rhode Island. She was chair of the English Department for twelve of those years. 


Dorothy’s passion, determination and unwavering sense of justice will be remembered by all those who knew her. As a child, Dorothy collected Superman comics, which engendered in her both a lifelong love of storytelling and a strong sense that those who are in a position in which they can help others are obligated to do so. In the 1960s, she traveled to Alabama in support of the Civil Rights Movement. She was integral to the start of two unions: the URI/AAUP Full-Time Faculty Union and the URI/Part-Time Faculty United. She was cofounder of Changing Lives Through Literature, Rhode Island chapter. 


Dorothy was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award, the 2008 Women of the Year award from the URI American Professional and Academic Women, and the 2016 Rhode Island Labor History Society award for lifelong achievement. 


Survived by a large extended family of nieces and nephews, Dorothy was always willing to offer advice and assistance wherever she was able. 


Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there will not be services at this time. A celebration for Dorothy’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, 220 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI 02907, Rhode Island Community Food Bank, 200 Niantic Avenue, Providence, RI 02907 will be greatly appreciated.


You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Dorothy Fay Donnelly
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