The Mary D Peace Park
In front of a crowd of wellwishers, friends and family, First Warden Kim Gaffett pulled off a genuine surprise for long-time island nurse Mary Donnelly. The occasion was a party at the Spring House on May 20 celebrating Mary D’s life and career. After a series of reflections and anecdotes about Mary D, Gaffett announced that a small but prominent piece of land — located right across the street from the National Hotel on Water Street — would be named the Mary A. Donnelly Peace Park.
After detailing the early part of Mary D’s career — how she came to Block Island in 1958 and was the island’s “sole licensed provider of care” — the proclamation read by Gaffett noted that “in short time Block Island lost its collective heart to this lady who became as much a part of this place as anyone born here, continuing to serve her adoptive home for 55 years and counting, always with good humor, resoluteness and true Christian love, along the way sharing her greatest joys and persevering through deepest sorrows.”
The plot of land is officially plat 6, lot 146, but it has a much more poetic name now. The Mary A. Donnelly Peace Park, is so named because in honoring Mary for her work, the council has also recognized Mary D as “a life-long advocate for a better world.” She has, according to the proclamation, “stood vigil in public spaces in Old Harbor, through winter’s wind and summer’s heat, diminutive in stature, great in heart, a witness for peace and justice in our land and abroad, offering silent testimony on the strength and endurance of her convictions …”
The party on May 20 was held in part to raise funds for a permanent marker that will be located on the small finger of land, which will be one of the first objects people see when they arrive on the island that Mary D served so long.
Donations are being accepted to purchase and place a permanent marker in the planned park. Tax deductible gifts may be made out to the Town of New Shoreham and will be placed in a dedicated account. Please write Mary D on the memo line and mail to Town of New Shoreham, Box 220, Block Island, R.I. 02807.