April 1, 1947-Charles Donnell Succumbs At 61

Whole Town Mourns Death Of Popular Police Officer

Charles R. “Nubby’ Donnell passed away Tuesday after noon at the Norwood Hospital The bitter news anxiously dreaded since last Friday moraine when he was stricken with a serious illness, passed around town with the speed of a Presidential death bulletin. A pall of grid fell upon the entire community — on rich and poor, on high and low.

For it was his high privilege to be an acquaintance, a friend, or a close pal with practically everyone in the Town of Norwood. His was a unique relationship with his fellow citizens which has never been duplicated here. Rudyard Kipling had a phrase for it “Little friend of all the world” But Nobby was a massive friend in stature, in spirit, in affection, in enthusiasm and in character. He needs no printed obituary, for all his townsmen know him intimately for what he has been to all men since he was born in Walpole 61 years ago.


Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the United Church.

Despite the fact of His Walpole birth, Nubby has been a Norwood man all his life with a colorful fame and reputation which was more than state-wide. His father, John Donnell, was employed for many years at the Winslow Bros. & Smith tannery, and his mother, Isabella Grey Donnell, a Walpole girl, moved to Norwood when Nubby was a tiny boy. He was a member of the first class to graduate from the West School, and had for his teacher Miss Ida Everett, later to become the Dean of Wheaton College. He completed his grammar and high school courses, graduating from the high school with the class of 1905. It was one of the Norwood High School’s most notable classes, including many who have risen to high places. But, in his particular local niche, none equaled the achievements of Charlie Donnell. As a devoted husband and father, athlete, police officer and a citizen whose character stood out in many and many civic movements, he was paramount in the Norwood picture.

After his graduation, like many other young men, he groped about to find his life work. He labored in the tannery, with the Ellis Ice Company, and as a pressman in the Norwood Press. This was the era when the Press Club, gift of James Berwick, was one of Norwood’s most respected and prized institutions. One of the reasons for this was because Nubby Donnell ran it with his usual efficiency and enthusiastic honesty.


Charlie Donnell was united in marriage on April 23. 1914, with Alice Louise Weller of Norwood. In 1916, because of his fame as an athlete in football, baseball, wrestling, swimming, and any other sport he engaged in, plus his reputation for straight thinking and action, he joined the Norwood police force. Yesterday, after 30 years as a policeman, Nubby Donnell was to have started a vacation which would have led to his retirement from the force on a pension.

Yesterday, as members of the police force from Chief Thomas Lydon down, were talking of their dead comrade, the thought was repeatedly expressed that while Charlie Donnell was a loyal United churchman, he never at any time let the thought of color or creed enter his mind when a fellow man was in a blind alley of trouble and needed assistance. And if it was more than a one-man job, he went out and got extra help. The number and character of such cases (and the majority of them were not police cases), will be seen at his burial service in the United Church.

He will be greatly missed at that church, as he will everywhere in town For he was an ever-faithful spark plug of enthusiasm, especially in its Men’s Club, which he had recently served as president. It was one of his pet avocations. He told the writer once that he liked it ‘‘because it does the fellow a lot of good, helps the church — and is a lot of fun.” There you have the soul of Nubby Donnell.


To place his record and wide reputation as a police officer in contrast with the kindness and charity of his heart is like two black and white bands. Over the last thirty years, he has met and grappled with some of the most desperate criminals which have infested this section. Dare-devil arrests in the black of midnight on lonesome roads with the twitching trigger fingers of crime threatening him, was routine with Nubby. His familiarity with crooks equaled the knowledge of many ace detectives of the metropolis. He did not know the extent of his strength and in the pursuit of his duty, he knew no fear.

A typical Donnell stunt was the dinner which he suggested to the Norwood Rotary and managed at the Vega Restaurant. It was designed to gather together the still-living members of the old Norwood Athletic football club and give them a chance to light those games over again which they played from 1906 to 1910. Twenty of them showed up and how they loved it! Thus Nubby has repeatedly demonstrated that it is the little, thoughtful things which a man does consistently which build up into towering love and respect when he departs this life.

This is no place to even to attempt to tell the Sport Saga of Nubby Donnell. Of course, it is the most colorful portion of his existence and reflects perfectly all the brave, comical, and almost unbelievable facets of his sport-loving life. He became one of the best-known and respected amateur wrestlers and judges in New England. He met the best amateurs and professionals and put many of them on the mat for an out. Hc was a marvelous swimmer and could have made a profession of it. But his early exploits as a football player in and around Norwood are perhaps the most fascinating chapter in this saga.

Charlie Donnell leaves a wife, two sons, John Roswell Donnell of Stanford, Cal., and Samuel Donnell of Norwood, two brothers, Chester L, Donnell, Chief of the Walpole Fire Department, and a twin brother, Bernard F. Donnell of Waterbury, Conn.

From the 1947 Norwood Town Report:

The Norwood Police Department lost one of its most respected members and the Town of Norwood lost one of its greatest citizens when Charles R. “Nubby” Donnell died on April 1, 1947. He had been a member of the Department since 1915.

As one of the outstanding football players, wrestlers, swimmers, and bicycle riders of his day and later as a wrestling referee, Donnell was widely known in sporting circles. People all over New England knew him as a huge, clean-cut sportsman. We of Norwood seemed to be even more aware of his gentlemanliness and cooperative spirit both as an officer of the law and in his athletic endeavors. Everyone had a good word for “Nubby,” — he had done so much for so many.

It was no wonder then that all mercantile activity ceased along Washington Street and hundreds who couldn’t gain entrance to the United Church, bowed their heads in reverence as the funeral services were conducted for “Nubby” Donnell — a man to remember.

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