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Obituary of Mary Ellen Reilly – The Providence Journal

a beloved teacher who was one of the founding mothers of the women’s studies program at the University of Rhode Island and architect of the university’s first endowed chair, died September 14, 2022. She was 81 year.

His funeral will be on Monday, September 19, at 11 a.m. at St. Charles Catholic Church, 89 Briggs Avenue, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Interment will follow at St. Joseph Cemetery in Pittsfield. The family asks that you respect Mary Ellen’s request for no flowers.

Mary Ellen was born on May 30, 1941 in Pittsfield, the second of four children born to Dorothy Dowd Reilly and William Reilly. She was a proud graduate of the College of Our Lady of the Elms in Chicopee, Mass., an alma mater she shared with her mother. She taught second grade for a year in Pittsfield, then entered the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield. Eventually, she left the command. After obtaining his master’s degree (1971) and his doctorate. (1973) in sociology from the University of Massachusetts, she joined the faculty of the University of Rhode Island.

When she retired in 2003, after 30 years of teaching, scholarship and service, a list of her accomplishments and awards filled many typewritten pages. Among those she is most proud of is her role in the successful court case in 1985 that secured pay equity for female professors. She was also celebrated for securing Eleanor Carlson’s $1 million gift for women’s studies, helping win (at least for a short time) health care benefits for retired faculty, and advocating for relentlessly girls and women. She and her URI colleague Bernice Lott have been recognized internationally for their groundbreaking research on sexual harassment.

Survivors include his partner of 32 years, Barbara F. Luebke; his brother Michael and sister-in-law Caryl (Hamden, Connecticut); and the nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews who have enriched his life beyond measure.

She was predeceased by her parents and brothers William Jr. and Edward.

A scholarship fund is being established in Mary Ellen’s name. Donations can be made to Elms College (note “ME Reilly” in the note line) and mailed to Institutional Advancement, Elms College, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee, MA 01013-2839.

Barbara and the family express their deepest gratitude to the many dedicated staff at South Kingstown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and HopeHealth who cared for Mary Ellen with professionalism, compassion and genuine affection.

Posted on September 16, 2022

Posted in Providence Journal