Eugene Russell Donnelly Jr., 79, of Pepperell Massachusetts, died at home on February 19, 2018 with family and old friends at his side. Pepperell was the place of his birth (May 4, 1938) and his base for exploring nature and the world, including regular trips hiking in the mountains of Wyoming in his earlier days, and London theater and restaurants later in life. He attended Phillips Academy Andover ('56) and Harvard University ('60, Dunster House, AB cum laude in History), meeting his wife Helen-Thomas Ritchie of Lilian, VA while serving as a Marine Corps officer at Quantico. Leaving the Marines a captain, and returning to Massachusetts, he spent his career at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Retiring at the end of the 1990s, he held many roles at the newspaper, starting as a journalist and rising to County Editor. A switch to the business side found him devising innovative circulation campaigns as the Head of Marketing. His career wrapped up with a second stint on the editorial board. Throughout, he was an outdoors columnist, penning columns on hunting and fishing, camping and conservation. Instrumental in establishing conservation lands in Pepperell and turning back the pollution of the Nashua River, he made the region all the better for his beloved canoe excursions. Wilds explored further afield included hiking Alaska and hunts in New Brunswick and Montana. He built a cedar canoe by hand, and crafted furniture both rickety and elegant.
A superior home chef starting in his teens, his wife legendarily recounted her new mother-in-law announcing, "Son, I've missed your cooking" on their first visit back to Pepperell. Since the turn of the century, health willing, they would trek with friends to Bailey Island, ME in summer, and Britain in winter, in pursuit of lobster and curry, ocean sunrises and Shakespeare. He is survived by Helen-Thomas and his sons' families; Benjamin and Allison Donnelly of Durham, NC and Nicholas and Patricia Donnelly of Westwood, MA; tallying three granddaughters and one grandson; his brother Norman Donnelly of Ft. Collins, CO. His wit and insight will be long missed.