Joan E. McDonnell (nee Gallagher), beloved wife of the late Bernard J. McDonnell, died on January 16 at her home in Darien surrounded by her family.

Joan was born to party, entering the world on New Year’s Eve in 1932, daughter to Ida and Alonzo Gallagher in The Bronx. She graduated from Saint Simon Stock High School and worked in Manhattan at Equitable Life where she met her future husband Bernie. Following his return from deployment during the Korean War, the sweethearts were married and raised a family in Bethpage, Long Island, where Joan worked for 25 years as a high school administrator. The McDonnell home in Long Island was a frequent gathering place for their many close friends and extended Irish family, always filled with wonderful smells coming from Joan’s kitchen and the laughter of a crowd, especially on the occasion of her annual St. Patrick’s Day party. In Bethpage, Joan was an active member and frequent volunteer at St. Martin of Tours Church and loved to attend events sponsored by the British American Club.

Following Bernie’s death in 2001 Joan opened a new chapter, moving to Darien, CT and extending her circle of friends and activities to include her neighbors in Darien Close and St. John’s Church. Throughout her life Joan was an avid traveler and in her later years one of her greatest joys was taking her grandchildren to visit her favorite place – Ireland. Joan left a loving mark on everybody who was lucky to have the chance to meet her. She will leave a legacy of love.

Joan is survived by her children Thomas McDonnell, of Stamford CT, Michael McDonnell, his wife Suzanne and their children Michael, Daniel and Caroline, of Rockaway NJ and Susan Collins, her husband Ted, and their children Meagan, Brady and Sean, of Darien CT and many loving nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her sister Lucille and her brother Gerald.

A wake is scheduled from 3pm-7pm on January 18 at Shippans Thomas M. Gallagher Funeral Home at 453 Shippan Ave, Stamford, CT, with a funeral mass at 10am on January 19 at St. Martin of Tours Church in Bethpage, NY. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Joan's life. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to The Shelter for the Homeless. To leave an online condolence please