Of Malden, Massachusetts, died October 14, 2023 at the age of 66 after a period of declining health. She was the beloved wife and partner of Daniel Burke for 20 years, the fiercely devoted mother of Will Shawno, and the best friend of Maxx the dog, all of Malden.
Born in Manchester, MA, the daughter of the late Ann-Jean and Jack Donelan, Susan was a self-employed artist. She attended North Shore Community College earning an associate’s degree in graphic arts and computer graphic design; she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies and Art at Lesley University. She was active in Malden Arts and the Malden Cultural Council and painted with Cape Ann Watercolor Painters for many years. She was also an accomplished photographer.
As a youth, in addition to her pursuit of visual arts, Susan was a swimmer and lifeguard. She deeply admired her teachers at Manchester High School, especially Herb Hahn who honed her writing skills and Dick Costello, who fostered her interest in earth sciences and environmental conservation. After high school, Susan was a cook at several restaurants and nursing homes on Cape Ann; and did interior painting in many area homes. She also enjoyed working for several years at the Cricket Press.
Susan’s interest in people, and her generosity of spirit, took her on endless drives around Cape Ann and Greater Boston, delivering meals, gifts, and empathy. The US Postal Service and Hallmark will miss her business—she sent hundreds of greeting cards for every occasion. She was loyal to small businesses for decades, from garden centers to bakeries to auto mechanics.
To her family, and everyone was family, Susan was the mom and aunt at every holiday concert, sporting event, play, birthday, and religious celebration. When she and Danny married, their combined families brought them great joy. Together they supported hundreds of people in recovery. Their garden in Malden was a visual delight to many, and the fruits of their garden were shared widely with neighbors and friends.
Susan carried on many Buckley and Donelan culinary traditions. When she cooked, everyone went home with leftovers. She was passionate about Boston sports and inherited the family political bug, always the defender of the downtrodden.
In addition to Danny and Will, Susan leaves siblings: Mary-Jane and John Beach, John Donelan, Nancy and Charlie Sabanty, Gael and Bob Tarleton, Karen Donelan and Phil Amrein and sister in law Kelly Donelan, wife of the late Mark Donelan. Burke in-laws included Michael Burke, Cynthia and Kevin MacDonald, Timothy Burke and Paula Clickstein, Robert Burke and Eileen McAnneny and the late Robert and Agnes, and their children John, Thomas, Kevin and Mary-Lou Burke.
Visiting Hours are planned for Friday October 20 from 4-8 pm at Gately Funeral Home, Melrose. Funeral services at St Mary’s Catholic Church Saturday October 21 at 10 am. Please meet at the church for the funeral mass. Internment of ashes in Manchester by the Sea at a later date will be private.
In memory of Susan, send a card, make a call, or deliver a meal. Memorial gifts are requested for St. Francis House https://stfrancishouse.org/