Dr. Maurice "Bill" Donnelly
Tuesday, 02 September 1930 - Sunday, 01 April 2018
Funeral Date: Saturday, 07 April 2018
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Dr. Maurice W. (Bill) Donnelly, 87, of Caribou, Maine passed away on Sunday, April 1, 2018 in the presence of his loving family at a family home in Gorham, Maine. He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of the late Maurice Simon Donnelly and Margaret (Föller) Donnelly, on September 2, 1930. He graduated from A.J. Demarest High School, Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1948 near the top of his class (nicknamed “Quiz Kid”). Upon graduation he worked in the construction field doing soil testing, concrete and asphalt inspection as well as a geologist for a gold mining expedition in Canada. Having an interest in aeronautics, he enlisted in the Air Force in 1951. He completed his basic training at Lackland AFB. From there he was sent to AeroTech, a division of West Coast University, to be trained in aircraft maintenance. After a short assignment in Florida, he was sent to Chanute AFB (Illinois) to train as a specialist in aircraft engine/propeller controls. Upon completion he was assigned in Misawa AFB ( Japan) in support of the Korean conflict. At the end of his overseas tour, he was sent to Walker AFB (New Mexico) where he became a troubleshooter on B-36’s, the Air Force’s largest plane at the time. Servicing these planes for missions 600 miles north of the Artic Circle at Thule AFB (Greenland) made it more of a challenge that he gladly accepted. During his 4 year tour, he went to night school at the various assignments and earned nearly 2 years of college credit. He ended his enlistment at Walker AFB and was honorably discharged in 1955. He developed a strong interest in Biology and liked the idea of a medical or dental career. He applied and was accepted at Temple University and completed his pre-medical/pre-dental required coursework and received a degree in Biology. His performance as an undergraduate allowed him to get accepted into the Temple University School of Dentistry class of about 120 students (out of over 1000 applicants). While in pre-med/pre-dent schooling, he met Nancy Woomer, his college roommate’s date. She was a 4th year art student at Moore College of Art. They hit it off, fell in love and were married in December of 1959. The roommate, a future cardiologist, was the best man at the wedding. Nancy graduated Moore with a degree in Fine Art/Illustration just before Maurice entered dental school. Her working, his summer work, the remaining part of his G.I. Bill, and a government loan helped carry them through his education. In his senior year, he was able to teach clinical mammalian anatomy to Pharmacy students to bring in additional support of their venture. During his four years of dental school he was a member of Psi Omega Dental Fraternity, served as class secretary and later as class president. He was elected to all of the honor societies sponsored by the school. He also won the Miller Anatomy Award and was elected to Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Honor Society, the highest honor an undergraduate dental student can receive. He graduated 7th in his class of 126 and passed his National Boards with high grades and was granted Honorary Boards by the state of Pennsylvania. He graduated in June of 1964 with a DDS degree. In August of 1964, Dr. Donnelly applied for a commission in the Air Force Dental Corp . It was granted and he returned to the Air Force at the rank of Captain. After completing a Medical Orientation Course, he was ordered to report to Dow AFB in Bangor, Maine. His first son, Stephen, was born there in December 1964. He later applied for Regular Commission in the Air Force, passed the Air Force Board Exam and was accepted as such, thus allowing him to stay on active duty beyond 20 years. In 1966, during the Vietnam War, he was assigned to U-Tapao AirField in Thailand. While there, he treated not only the military, but also native villagers who lacked basic medical care and facilities. During the tour, he applied for specialty training at the University of Washington and was accepted based on his education and experience. He studied oral surgery and prosthodontics. After four years he received an MSD degree and certification in Prosthodontics. While in Seattle, his second son, Michael, was born. Upon graduation, Dr. Donnelly was assigned to Grand Forks AFB (North Dakota) where he served as Chief of Prosthodontics for three years after which time he was transferred to George AFB (California) to serve in the same position. While at George, Loma Linda University appointed him as a Clinical Assistant Professor in return for teaching dental students a half day a week at the school dental clinic. As an added benefit, the dental staff at George AFB would be allowed to attend continuing dental education courses from the university free of charge. California also welcomed the birth of his 3rd son Gary. During a 6-year stay, Dr. Donnelly and his family enjoyed many incredible adventures across the Western coast and mountains. A highlight was the summiting of Mt. Whitney with Nancy, the highest peak in the contiguous United States at 14,494 feet. In 1980, Dr. Donnelly moved his family back to Maine for an assignment at Loring AFB (Maine), where he served again as Chief of Prosthodontics. While stationed there he completed (remotely) the Air War College program at Manwell AFB (Alabama). He received his certificate of completion from Col. Thomas Cox, Hospital Commander at Loring AFB, at a squadron formation. Completion of that course, as noted by Col. Cox, was rare amongst hospital doctor officers. For a period of time, Dr. Donnelly served as the Base Dental Surgeon while still keeping up with his prosthodontic workload.
In 1985, Dr. Donnelly was assigned to Holloman AFB (New Mexico) as a needed Chief of Prosthodontics. Not wishing to disrupt his children’s schooling and family friendships, he decided to leave his family in Caribou, Maine while he completed the assignment. At the time he was seriously considering retirement from the Air Force in a year. At 30 years of service, Col. Donnelly did retire in 1987. During that time he earned, in addition to his campaign and other ribbons, two Air Force Commendation Medals and an Air Force Meritorious Service Medal.
Dr. Donnelly returned to his family in Caribou with the comfort of knowing there would be no more forced family separations. After a few months of rest and getting things fixed around the house, he volunteered to help out one day a week at the Loring AFB clinic. This ended up turning into full time paid contract position that lasted nearly five years. At that time, due to fund shortages, the Air Force eliminated all the civilian contact dentist positions. Shortly after this, he was asked to work with Dr. Donald Cassidy Sr. at his clinic in Fort Fairfield He accepted and worked there for nearly 4 years until the time Dr. Cassidy sold his practice. Dr. Donnelly decided to retire for a second time… that did not last long. The Loring Job Corp. (a new entity founded after the closing of Loring AFB in 1991) needed a dentist to build a clinic from ‘scratch’ and work there practicing general dentistry. After a brief interview, he was hired and began building the new clinic. He worked there for nearly 8 years, first for Horizons Health Service and secondly for Pines Health Services after a contract change. Dr. Donnelly enjoyed the experience but in March of 2003, he decided to retire for a final time. He gave his notice and left the full time practice of dentistry. He remained available for short consultations, brief fill-ins and other support until December 2005 when his Maine dental license expired. While living in Caribou, Dr. Donnelly joined the Kiwanis Club and held various roles within the organization including director, secretary, treasurer and president, all the time giving to the community with good friends and fellow members. He also joined the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the Disabled American Veterans Association (DAV), becoming a Life Member in each.
Nancy, Dr. Donnelly’s wife of over 47 years, died in September 2006. His sister, Margaret (Peggy) Petrullo died in March 2011. His two remaining sisters, Barbara Maltese and Karen Kaner live in New Jersey with their wonderful families. Dr. Donnelly is also survived by sons: Dr. Stephen Donnelly, his wife Sara, and his children Ethan and Mia; Michael Donnelly, and his children William and Warren; Gary Donnelly, his wife Amy, and their children Emily and Erica. They all live in Gorham, Maine. Friends and family may call on Saturday, April 7, 2018, from 3:00-4:00PM at Mockler Funeral Home, 24 Reservoir St, Caribou, Maine, where a funeral service will be held at 4:00PM with Rev. Tim Wilcox, officiating. A reception will be held at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center lounge immediately following the service. Those wishing to remember “Bill” may make a gift in his memory to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105 Source Code:IIQ170788777 Gifts can also be made online at: http://giftfunds.stjude.org/billdonnelly