WORCESTER-Eleanor "Jane" (McGinley) Petrella, 87, a longtime community activist and leader, died on July 30, 2020 at CareOne in Millbury, MA.
She is survived by her son John of Worcester and his wife Siobhan; her daughters Bonnie of Auburn, MA, and her husband Paul Croteau; Teresa of Auburn and her husband Walter Wheeler, and Karen of Frankfurt, Germany and her husband, Raimund Vogelsberger. She is also survived by seven grandchildren and one great grandchild; Michael Croteau and his wife Brianna and their daughter Jaclyn of Charlton, MA; Jeffrey Croteau of Portsmouth, NH; Jeanelle Wheeler of Auburn; Giovanni and Ciorstaidh Petrella of Worcester; Erik Vogelsberger of Cedar City, Utah and Markus Vogelsberger of Frankfurt, Germany; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband of 65 years, Frank Petrella, Jr. (January 12, 2020); her father, James J. McGinley (1942); her mother Catherine (Bober) McGinley (1968); two sons, James Petrella (2004) and Thomas Petrella (2010); a sister, Mary Agnes (McGinley) Marnell, and six brothers, John Adam, William, Joseph Archibald, Edmund Francis, Robert, and Alfred.
She was born in Wheeling, West Virginia on April 20, 1933. In 1950, she graduated from St. Joseph Academy in Wheeling. The first in her extended family to attend college, in 1954, she received her Bachelor's degree in Biology and Medical Technology from Mount St. Joseph College and Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.
On August 14, 1954, she married her "one and only" and the "love of her life," Frank Petrella, a four-year Army veteran. Jane and Frank lived in South Bend, Indiana with their rapidly growing family while Frank received his Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctor's Degrees in Economics from the University of Notre Dame. After Frank received an appointment to the College of the Holy Cross Economics Faculty, the family moved to Worcester in September 1960.
As a resident of Worcester, Jane was active in a variety of community organizations. She was instrumental in the creation of the Quinsigamond Village Community Center in the 1970s. Since its inception, she has served on all of its boards and committees and from 1985 to 1988, as Executive Director. Her work on the Worcester Housing Authority Advisory Committee contributed significantly to the construction of the Greenwood Gardens elderly housing complex in Quinsigamond Village.
Her involvement with the Worcester Public Schools included membership in the Quinsigamond School Mothers' Club, 1960-1974; the Worcester Council of School Parents' Groups, 1970-1985; Quinsigamond School Advisory Council, 1997-present; and numerous other advisory committees. Also, from 1979-2000, she was a member of the Worcester School Department's Standing Committee on School Plant, and sub-Committee on Long Range School Building programs. For her work with the Worcester schools and her efforts towards the construction of the new Quinsigamond Elementary School, on May 4, 1999, the school library was dedicated in her name as the Jane Petrella Media Center.
Her other community activities include service on the Worcester Parks Commission, 1981-1986; City Manager's Citizen Advisory Council, 1987-1990; and Route 20 and 146 Mass Pike Citizens' Advisory and Task Force Committees from the early 1980s to 2015. Also, she was a very active member of the Greenwood Street Landfill Task Force, a committee that made many significant decisions in granting money from landfill tipping fees to numerous community projects, such as upgrades to the Quinsigamond Elementary School and Greenwood Park. Jane was particularly pleased that she lived to see the completion of three major projects in 2017 and 2018 that she championed for many years— the Blackstone Gateway Park, The Visitor Center, and the Greenwood Street Solar Farm on top of the former landfill. In recognition of her neighborhood and community work, she was named by Mayor Ray Mariano in 1997, the first recipient of the Mayor's Volunteer Community Service Award.
As a member of St. Catherine of Sweden Church, she served as a lector and member of the Parish Council as well as serving as chairperson for annual church picnics, yard sales, and ecumenical Lenten soup suppers. She was also St. Catherine's representative to the Worcester Hunger Network from 1993 to 2003, and she was chair and coordinator from 1993 to 2007 of the food co-op SHARE New England, sponsored locally by St. Catherine's and the Emanuel Lutheran Churches. At the Diocesan level, she was a member of the Social Justice and Peace Commission from 1982 to 1991. She also served as liaison and regional coordinator for the Catholic School Department on a variety of issues including use of federal money for Catholic school transportation. In recognition of her service, she was awarded the Diocesan Elizabeth Ann (Mother) Seton Medal in 1984.
n recognition of other contributions to the Worcester community, Jane also received the 2008 Caffrey Award, an American Flag that had flown both over the Washington DC Capitol and Union Station during the previous year. The award is presented to that person "who has demonstrated courage, fortitude, and perseverance through deeds and actions on behalf of the community." In addition, on October 2, 2008, at the Hogan Campus Center, at the College of the Holy Cross, the Worcester Historical Museum presented Jane with the Harvey Ball Smile Award that recognizes "individuals whose commitments have made a difference in the city of Worcester and helped people throughout the community smile."
We could add more to Jane's resume of community service; however, she often said that she was interested in results not recognition. It was Jane's persistence and ability to work with people that led her to accomplish so much. She welcomed everyone's ideas and in cooperation with others, engaged in, as she often said, "a thorough examination of facts and issues to reach solutions to problems." Jane always put the needs of her family and community ahead of her own. Her kindness, love, and generosity in service to the residents of her beloved Quinsigamond Village neighborhood and the city of Worcester at large will be missed.
Jane's life will be celebrated on Friday, August 7, from Callahan Fay Caswell Funeral Home, 61 Myrtle St with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10am in St. Peter's Church, 931 Main St. Entombment will follow in St. John's Mausoleum. Visiting Hours will be held Thursday, August 6 from 4 to 7pm at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the library fund of the Quinsigamond Village Elementary School, 14 Blackstone River Road, Worcester, MA 01607 and the Quinsigamond Village Community Center, 16 Greenwood Street, Worcester, MA 01607.