April 2 2017
State Sen. Ken Donnelly, 66, Has Died Due to Brain Tumor
By: Rich Hosford
State Senator Kenneth Donnelly has passed away, his office announced Sunday night.
"It is with enormous sadness that we must report that State Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington) has passed away today surrounded by family," the statement read.
At the time of his passing, Senator Donnelly was 66. The cause of death was a brain tumor he gallantly battled for 8 months, his office says.
Senator Donnelly represented the 4th Middlesex district including Arlington, Burlington, Billerica, Woburn and Lexington, precincts 1, 2, and 4 thru 7.
Prior to serving in the Massachusetts Senate, Senator Donnelly was a firefighter for 37 years in the Town of Lexington, and legislative agent and the secretary treasurer of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts.
"Ken was known to all who knew him first and foremost for his devotion to his family and as a fighter for those without a voice," the statement says. "Throughout his career, he fought to save others, protect the most vulnerable in our society, and give voice to working men and women across the Commonwealth. He was a staunch believer in the role of unions and government to protect workers, and he was well known for his efforts to advance justice and equality for all people no matter their race, religion, national origin, or sexual identification."
"As such, he treated all with whom he met with dignity and respect, and over the many years he worked as both a union negotiator and state legislator, he earned back in return the respect and admiration of both his allies and his adversaries," the statement continues.
His office also pointed to Donnelly's many accomplishments as a public servant.
"Senator Donnelly championed many causes during his career, from increasing access and quality to mental health services for all; to funding for workforce training for the unemployed and underemployed; to more protections for homeless families and retirees on fixed incomes; to women’s’ access to healthcare; and to the creation of a criminal justice system that was fair for all," the statement added.
"Through all these diverse efforts, Senator Donnelly never sought the accumulation of personal credit; but rather he was dedicated to the causes he believed in and the people he represented, and he brought his tremendous energy, courage, and passion to changing many lives for the better."
Senator Donnelly leaves behind his loving wife of 43 years, Judy; his beloved children Ryan, Keith, and Brenna and his 5 grandchildren; and a large extended family and group of friends who loved and admired him.
State Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford), who worked closely with Donnelly, said he was heartbroken by the news.
“Tonight we lost a true here in Senator Ken Donnelly,” he said. “He fought for working families throughout the Commonwealth but he always retained his focus on his district, including Burlington. He was the definition of a sincere public servant, always looking out for working families. He is a true friend I will miss. I am heartbroken.”
Gordon added that he was himself inspired by Sen. Donnelly.
“When I first ran for office in 2012 at the BCAT debate I was asked to name the public servant I would model my career after if I could. I named Ken Donnelly because he was always there for people,” he said. “I saw constituents approach him all the time and he always stopped to listen and then made sure to respond. In 2016 when I ran for reelection I was asked the same question at the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce forum. My response was to recall that I had given Ken Donnelly as my answer in 2012 and that I would stick with him in 2016 because he did everything in that time to prove he is a remarkable legislator and advocated for working families.”
Donnelly's office says details on his wake and funeral arrangements will be announced when they become available.