RIP Senator Ken Donnelly

State Senator Ken Donnelly has died after fighting brain cancer. I hope it’s OK to quote Rep. Sean Garballey’s Facebook posting:

Senator Donnelly was my friend and a mentor. Ken was the voice for working families in the State Senate. Whether he was entering a burning building as a firefighter or passionately advocating for the most vulnerable in our Commonwealth on the floor of the State Senate, Ken always always put others first.

After working with Ken for many years I am reminded that he always did what he thought was right. He was a man of profound character and unshakable integrity. I will miss the time we spent together, the laughter and stories we shared, and the immense pride I had in calling him my friend and partner.

My prayers and sincerest condolences go out to Ken’s wife Judy, his children Keith, Ryan and Brenna, his grandchildren, his staff, his friends and the constituents who he loved so much. Rest In Peace my friend.

He was my Senator and was on the right side of a lot of things. I sent him a rather frustrated note after the MBTA-apocalypse of 2015, and he set me straight on his record, which was indeed good. (I am always happy to be set straight in such a manner!)

But today’s not about the politics. It’s about the man and the people that loved him. RIP Ken and much comfort to his family and friends.


3 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. As Rep. Garballey says, he always put others first.

    One example that comes to mind: Senator Donnelly’s leadership in protecting the family shelter system at a time when the Governor (also a member of the Democratic party) proposed that the state “get serious” about the problem of family homelessness by declaring most families ineligible for shelter.

    Excerpts from the 2012 Senate budget debate. Senator Donnelly’s amendment to restore eligibility to some families passed unanimously.

    The failure we have is to make sure we move people from shelters to homes. Let’s make no mistake about the fact that this a failure. We cannot allow women and children to be on the street. We should not have them in hotels. Economic realities do not allow us to fund permanent housing at the same levels we wish. It is extremely important we keep the emergency shelter that exists.

    [Under the Governor's shelter proposal] someone that has worked and lost their job through no fault of their own, and they have been out of a job for three or four years, that they would not be ineligible because they have been out of their job for more than year. A carpenter who used his or her savings for more than a year would be ineligible. Domestic violence — if you left the situation and went to your sister’s house for a couple of days, you would be ineligible.

    This amendment expands the categories that are eligible for shelter. It gives shelter to victims of domestic violence, families who have lost their homes because of increases in rent, or have not been able to pay the rent because of a documented loss of income. This amendment would make it clear that families who are living in cars would be eligible for shelter if they are living with a health risk. We have modified the language so we are less likely to exclude deserving families just because we didn’t imagine their situation.


    and became a progressive fighter championing the causes of the least among us.

    I knew him through my work with his friend and former Senate colleague,
    Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

    Rest in peace, Senator.

    Fred Rich LaRiccia

  3. Ken Donnelly was also a kind human being who took time for our family during our time of struggle and loss

    As a result, his death feels like losing a member of my own family. There is a vigil candle burning here; he will be long remembered by myself, my son, and my daughter for his kindness during a very hard time.

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Mon 24 Apr 11:18 AM