Joseph P. Connolly, an educator with an interest in anything historical who retired to Mashpee after 34 years of teaching, died at home September 8. He was 92.
Mr. Connolly, formerly of Newton, Needham and Framingham, moved to Mashpee full time in 1990 after spending summers here for eight years.
He became a member of the Mashpee Historical Commission in May 1996, and the following year embarked on a special project at the Mashpee Archives that focused on making small cemetery sites more accessible to the public.
“It’s exciting,” he said about working at the archives during an Enterprise interview in January 1997. “I spend a lot of time browsing and researching and reading and enjoying.”
During the interview, Mr. Connolly said 10 burial grounds had been recorded in Mashpee, and he was researching several others. Most people knew about the Old Indian Cemetery on Route 28, he said, but several smaller burial grounds are scattered throughout town, such as the Avant Burial Ground on Route 130 or the Hicks Burial Ground north of Ashumet Pond.
“Some are in good condition and some are in neglected condition,” he said. “Some are privately owned and some are owned by the town.”
Building on the work of former commission member Marie C. Scalley, who had moved to Arizona, Mr. Connolly was researching the ownership of Mashpee’s burial grounds and had visited several cemetery sites. “This is interesting for the tourists and the people to know,” he said. “This is history.”
He said when he was not working at the archives, he enjoyed playing tennis, reading, and traveling with his wife, Elizabeth.
After a short stay on the commission he resigned with regret, noting that he had taken on new activities that interfered with his ability to devote time to the commission.
In his earlier years, Mr. Connolly joined the US Marine Corps Air Reserve at Squantum Naval Air Station while still a student at Newton High School, then enlisted in the US Air Force in 1950 at the outbreak of the Korean War and served through the end of the war in 1953. Upon his discharge, he enrolled at Boston University and studied to be a teacher, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1956; he earned a master’s degree in audio visual education in 1959.
He began his teaching career with six years in Lexington, then moved to Newton North High School in 1962. While there, he worked in the library as a media specialist, and taught American history. He coached the boys’ cross-country team for 10 years, during which time the team traveled to Europe and Mr. Connolly led them to state championships in 1978 and 1981. He also coached the girls’ tennis team and guided them to two state finals. During his career Mr. Connolly was named Coach of the Year for both teams by The Boston Globe.
During his retirement, he took up a new passion, golf, and became an enthusiastic participant. Five years later, at the age of 80, he scored a hole-in-one on the fourth hole at Holly Ridge Golf Club in Sandwich.
He leaves two daughters, Laurie Cash of Bourne and Lisa Trovillion of Cooksville, Maryland; a son, Dana Connolly of Newton; four granddaughters; and five great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his son Colin J. Connolly in 2018; and prior to that time by his wife, Marilyn E. (Leavitt) Connolly.
A graveside service will take place on Tuesday, October 5, at 11 AM at Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.