By Nancy McDonald
On Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015, Mary Theresa Connolly “T.C.”, 72, of Dunmore died at the Regional Hospital of Scranton after battling a lengthy illness. T. C. had a lifelong love for Dunmore and its surrounding region. She was a founding member of the Dunmore Historical Society and since its inception has served on its board in many capacities. Along with fellow board members she worked to secure the former Tripp Avenue Church for the Society’s permanent home. She sold tickets and worked tirelessly gathering workers, bakers and basket donations for the annual Historical Society Dinner. She loved railroads and in 1981 published The Gravity, History of the Pennsylvania Coal Company Railroad, 1850-1885.
T.C. graduated from St. Mary of Mount Carmel grade school in 1955 and from Dunmore High School in 1959. In 1963, she earned Bachelor of Arts degree from Marywood College, now Marywood University, where she had a major in history, a minor in English and the right to teach at the secondary level. She applied to the Scranton School District and went through an oral interview with three out-of-town educators. Their score was added to her National Teachers Exam score. She was then placed numerically on a hiring list.
In the summer of 1963, the Scranton School Board hired her to teach English and history to seventh grade students at South Scranton Junior High School. It was a role in which, by choice, she remained until she retired in 2000. She loved teaching, and she loved seventh grade. Students fortunate enough to take her class remembered a strict disciplinarian with an extensive subject knowledge imparted in a professional manner.
T.C. soon returned to Marywood and obtained a Master of Science in History in 1967. It was the same year in which she was inducted into Phi Alpha Thea, the National History Honor Society. As a proud Marywood graduate, T. C. was active in the Marywood Alumni Association. In 2013, her class celebrated its 50 year reunion, an occasion she helped make memorable by serving on the Class of 1963 reunion committee. At the opening night dinner, T. C. and her classmates became part of the Sister Cuthbert Society, named in honor of Sister M. Cuthbert Donovan, I.H.M., a former Dean of Marywood.
T.C. was a member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the National Education Association. She additionally was a long time member of the Lackawanna Historical Society, the Wayne County Historical Society, the Carbondale Historical Society, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Through her friendship with the Barrett family, —Marie, Atty. Paul and Sister Adrian—she became one of the earliest and most enthusiastic supporters of the Friends of the Poor. She also supported the Catherine McCauley Center—an organization that offers help abused women—the St. Francis Soup Kitchen and St Joseph’s Center. Because her father fought in World War I, T. C. became a lifelong supporter of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled Veterans of America.
Her father worked at the cemetery of St. Mary of Mount Carmel parish. Her aunt, Ellen Loughney spent her career teaching seventh grade at the Dunmore Junior High School on North Apple Street. For years, her uncle, Joseph Loughney ran a successful coal business. Their work brought them into contact with many Dunmore families. By listening to them, T.C. gained a unique perspective on the town. She had a tremendous amount of genealogical information and a formidable knowledge of parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and the interconnecting marriages of Dunmore families. It was a knowledge she willingly shared with people seeking information about their Dunmorean ancestors.
During the first two weekends in October, the Dearly Departed Players present the Dunmore Cemetery Tour. Those attending walk from site to site and listen to actors in period costumes relate the important moments in their character’s lives. The tour is written and directed by T.C.’s former student, Julie Snell Esty. T.C. always offered her support in the promotion of the tour.
After retirement, T. C. was able to travel. She visited Las Vegas, spent many happy days in New York City at Broadway shows and cheerfully accompanied me to San Francisco, Maine and the New England states to visit my family. She toured Italy, France, Austria, Spain and Greece with Father Sica’s groups and took a tour of England and some cruises by herself. As a devoted Catholic, the highlight of her tours was her audience with the late Pope John Paul II.
T.C. was a Democrat and active in the cause of electing more Democrats to office. Her cousin, Patrick “Nibs” Loughney, is the Mayor of Dunmore. Whenever he ran for office, a supportive sign would always be found in her front yard. In addition to the Mayor, she is survived by her ninety-eight year old cousin, Veronica McHugh and her cousins, Joseph Loughney, Marial Loughney, Michael Loughney, Mrs. Jean Ehnot, John Loughney, Eileen Loughney, Francis Loughney, Michael Loughney, Joseph Loughney and Attorney Ellen Loughney and Jerome Cavanaugh, and Irene Cavanaugh.
T.C. was generous and loyal to her family, friends and the many charities and organizations she supported. As scripture says, “May her name be written in the book of good women.” I speak for all who knew and loved her when I say, “Rest in peace, my friend.