Rita Anne Gallagher McDonnell
Born at Fordham Hospital, Bronx, New York, on July 7, 1932, Died at her home in Harwich Saturday March 21,2020 , Rita Anne Gallagher was the youngest of two daughters born to Dorothy Bohan Gallagher and James Patrick Gallagher.
As a young woman growing up in the Bronx, Rita was an eager and adept learner, attending Our Lady of Mercy Academy at the early age of four, and going on to be accepted as a student at Cathedral High School, where she excelled at academics. After passing her Regents Program College exam, Rita graduated with a Regent’s Diploma at a ceremony and Mass held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, an honor exclusive to students at Cathedral High school. The Regents Diploma these graduates to enter any New York College without an entrance examination.
Rita and Xavier lived next door to each other on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. One Easter Sunday on an attempt by Xavier to impress Rita, he took her by taxi cab to Fordham Road to buy flowers for her mother. Eventually it may have paid off because when he asked her to "go steady" she refused twice on Xavier's third attempt she agreed to "go steady" the rest is history. On November 25, 1949, after Xavier was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy Submarine Corps., Rita and Xavier were married. Together they brought eight children into the world: Christine McDonnell Haas, Deborah McDonnell (deceased), Elizabeth McDonnell, Xavier McDonnell, James McDonnell, Peter McDonnell, Meaghan McDonnell, and Maura McDonnell.
Rita’s love of work and learning continued throughout her lifetime. As a young mother, she worked as a proofreader for Readers Digest, and as a prison guard at the Bedford Hill’s Correctional Facility for Women. In later years, when the family moved to the Washington D.C. area, she became the human resources director at Equitable Life Insurance. When the family moved to Cape Cod to be close to Rita’s mother, Rita was employed at an international business consulting firm run by a retired Harvard business president. Her motivation and business knowledge led to her then becoming the Sales Manager for two Cape-Cod based Sheraton Hotels.
Along with her children, Rita is survived by her sister, Marilyn, brother-in-law, Owen McDonnell, 22 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
Rita’s love of music and dance, combined with her beauty, attention, warmth, and unflappable love of her family is a legacy we all share. Rita, we thank you for being the matriarch of our family for all these years and for opening your heart to all of us who had the privilege of knowing you. May you rest in peace and join your family in heaven. You will be greatly missed forever. We love you.
Services were held privately