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The Boston Globe - Mary Ellen Welch, teacher and leading activist in East Boston, dies at 77

The Boston Globe - Mary Ellen Welch teacher and leading activist in East Boston dies at 77

Mary Ellen Welch had what she called “the best job in the whole wide world.” For more than 45 years, she taught second-graders at the O’Donnell Elementary School reading, writing, and activism — how to be good citizens of East Boston, and of the world beyond their neighborhood.

On the first day of school each year, she wrote two things on the blackboard: her name and the noise complaint hotline number for Massport.

Among Boston’s legendary activists, Ms. Welch, who was 77 when she died March 7, stood out both for the breadth of her accomplishments and the way she went about achieving so many goals.

“She was one of the most self-effacing activists I have ever worked with,” said Tom Glynn, former CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority. “She never wanted it to be about her. She always wanted it to be about East Boston and the community.”

A leader of numerous civic groups, she worked to limit the expansion, increasing noise, and pollution at Logan Airport. She advocated for creating and improving parks in East Boston, and for adding new equipment to playgrounds at the neighborhood’s schools. She also helped welcome waves of new immigrants.

updated: 2 weeks ago