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Malden Catholic Announces the Passing of Joe O'Donnell ’62

Malden, MA (January 9, 2024) – With great sadness, Malden Catholic announces the passing of Joe O'Donnell '62, a long-time friend, leading advocate, benefactor, and unwavering supporter of the school. Joe played a pivotal role as co-chairman of the successful $25 million Essential Campaign and was set to co-chair the upcoming Our Essential Future Campaign. His impact on Malden Catholic has been immeasurable, influencing significant decisions such as the implementation of the codivisional model in 2018 and the impending redevelopment of 50 Crystal Street.

Joe O'Donnell embodied a force of nature, extending his support and wisdom to drive Malden Catholic to unprecedented heights. His enthusiasm, guidance, and dedication were instrumental in shaping the school's trajectory, and his loss leaves an irreplaceable void.

In the words of Malden Catholic's President, John Thornburg, "Joe was always there to help me think through a problem, provide advice, and give enthusiastic support for pushing Malden Catholic to the next level. He was very proud of everything Malden Catholic has accomplished, and I know that he believed the best was yet to come. Malden Catholic has lost a great friend and champion."

In honor of Joe O'Donnell's memory, Malden Catholic will be reprinting an excerpt from the 2011 press release announcing his historic $5 million gift to the Essential Malden Catholic Campaign. Joe's generosity extended beyond a mere financial contribution as it represented a personal commitment deeply rooted in his profound connection to the school.

"It's personal," Joe once said, reflecting on his philanthropy. "I formed terrific relationships with the people at Malden Catholic, and the school was like an extension of my family. I benefited from a terrific education taught by the Xaverian Brothers. I really had a good time. As an eager eighth grader in the sixties, Joe originally had his sights set on Everett High School. “My dad told me I was attending Malden Catholic. Those were the days when your parents made those choices for you. So, with a heavy heart, I set out for my first day at MC, taking two buses and a transfer. After the first day, I fell in love with the place."

As a 1962 graduate of Malden Catholic, Joe O'Donnell continued his education at Harvard College and Harvard Business School, achieving remarkable success in business. He is the founder of Boston Culinary Group, serves as Chairman of Centerplate (a nationally recognized foodservice company), and is the owner of Allied Advertising Agency.

Joe's impact extends far beyond Malden Catholic, also serving as chairman of the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's $250 million Milestones Campaign. In 1986, Joe and his wife, Kathy, founded the Joey Fund in memory of their beloved son, who succumbed to the disease that year. Joe attributes his success to the foundation laid at Malden Catholic, stating, “In so many ways, Malden Catholic helped me to move forward – Exeter, Harvard, Harvard Business School — and to where I am today. Giving back is the right thing to do.”

Joe O'Donnell's legacy is engraved in the success he achieved and in the countless lives he touched through his generosity and support for education. His dedication to Malden Catholic and his belief in its potential for greatness will continue to inspire generations to come.

The Malden Catholic community extends its deepest condolences to Joe O'Donnell's family, friends, and all who mourn his passing.

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