O’Donnell Has Never Forgotten the City He Comes From

Superintendent of Schools Frederick Foresteire welcomes businessman and philanthropist Joseph O’Donnell to the Everett High School football awards banquet April 1 at Anthony’s in Malden. O’Donnell, a generous supporter of the athletic program, joined a capacity crowd in honoring the 2011 Super Bowl champions at the banquet.

Add this small bit to the plethora of wonderful things written about Everett’s Joe O’Donnell – and know this – he had nothing whatsoever to do with a word of this being written. It simply isn’t his style.

Joe O’Donnell, who grew-up in Everett when this city was a far different place than it is today, is not yet finished with whatever it was he set out to do with his life when he was a young man.

This is saying something considering all the success he has known.

How he got himself into Harvard University, how he went to business school there, how he made a great fortune and has become, of all things, the largest of Harvard’s private benefactors, is the stuff of legend around here – and at Harvard, too.

What he has accomplished so far in the business world needs no introduction here.

Suffice to say, from early on in his life Mr. O’Donnell has shown he has the Midas touch. Virtually everything Mr. O’Donnell has touched during a long life has enjoyed great success.

Success begets success. Mr. O’Donnell is everything a shrewd businessman ought to be.

He’s sharp as a tack. He’s quick like the athlete he was when he played baseball for Harvard. He knows how to make friends and he is expert at using influence to help others.

Of everything that can be said of Mr. O’Donnell, he is mostly about doing for others, all the time, and so quietly, his largesse is almost unknown.

Giving back stands out as the one thing that defines his life.

A recent Boston Globe piece by Brian McGrory about Mr. O’Donnell detailed how his efforts to find a cure for the disease that killed his young son, Joe, have spurned him on to raise something like $200 million for medical researchers who believe they are coming closer to that goal.

The money has been raised through the Joey Fund.

In addition, Mr. O’Donnell has been a source of aid and inspiration to those young men and women coming from cities like Everett and Chelsea, who needed his guidance and support to get into Harvard. His efforts know no bounds.

He shows no signs of slowing down and if he has given you his word that he will help you out – you can take that to the bank as his word is his bond.

His generosity has known no boundaries in Everett. His lifelong friendship with Superintendent of Schools Fred Foresteire is all about a solid bond. How Mr. O’Donnell’s donations have helped the Everett Public Schools is the stuff of dreams and miracles, although Mr. O’Donnell’s life and efforts are rooted in reality.

Here, his giving to the public schools and to sporting programs, for fields, for equipment, for field houses, for whatever, is again legendary.

For when you come right down to it, this is a man who grew-up in a three family home overlooking Everett Memorial Stadium. His father was an Everett Police sergeant. His mother was a school teacher..

Out of that home rose an extraordinary Everett guy who has become a giant of a man but not because of his money but rather, but because of what he was willing to do with it to help others, to give of himself at all times to the worthy who asked.

He’s down to earth. He’s very sophisticated. He runs with the leaders of this nation and with the leaders of the nation’s greatest university, yet when you boil this man down, he is all about growing-up in Everett and having lived the Everett experience as a youth.

He does not live here but he personifies what is best about this place.

He remains proud of this city and the efforts of the Fred Foresteires in this place.

Above all, Everett has always been home to him.

It always will be.

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