CHARLESTOWN, N.H. – Joseph Hoey O’Donnell passed away June 5, 2012. He was born April 4, 1932, in Houlton, to G. Christopher and Florence O’Donnell. He was the oldest son to a family that would grow to 15 children.
He moved to Foxboro, Mass., in 1946 attending Foxboro High School forging friendships that remain strong to this day. There he met Helene Barry and they married in 1955, eventually having seven children together. His father, Chris, was a respected stable owner of O’Donnell’s Farm and from there grew Joe’s passion for horses. Joe became one of the youngest harness racers in the sport and showed great talent winning more than 100 races in his short career. He was so popular that when drafted during the Korean War, the Boston Herald American wrote an article on the loss to harness racing. Upon his return from the service he began his career at O’Donnell’s Express, "The Pioneer Line," a trucking company founded by his father in Houlton, which grew to 12 terminals servicing the Maritimes and New England. He was the youngest president of Maine Truck Owners Association, serving three successful terms. He worked closely with business and government leaders on transportation issues local, national and international. In 1973, in the wake of deregulation of the transportation industry, the decision was made to sell the family business. He then went on to have more successes with his warehouse/distribution companies, actually being the first distributor of Reebok Sneakers. Upon his retirement from the transportation field, he settled in Old Orchard Beach and worked as a realtor agent for Sand Castle Realty. He became more involved in AA, which he joined in 1974. He was instrumental in expanding the Big Book Step Study Program in the Portland area and was a mentor, friend and lifeline to many in the program. He felt strongly that AA had saved his life and wanted to give back. He moved to New Hampshire in 2004 and remained very active in AA until recent years as his health declined. In his final years, he found great comfort in the company of his family and they will miss him dearly.
He was the former husband of the late Helene (Barry) O’Donnell; loving father of Mary O’Donnell of Charlestown, N.H., Anne Marie Niethold and her husband, Richard, of Sharon, Mass., Kerry Binney and her husband, Jonathan, of Walpole, N.H., Barry O’Donnell and his wife, Sherri, of Windham, Erin Sheedy of Attleboro, Mass., Alice (O’Donnell) Dryden of North Attleboro, Mass., and Christopher O’Donnell and his wife, Michaela, of Attleboro, Mass.; and brother of Lawrence, Patrick, Shawn and Michael O’Donnell, Colleen Broughton, Bridget Bordeiri, Evelyn O’Donnell and Theresa Creedan. He is also survived by 13 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend calling hours 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, at Roberts and Sons Funeral Home, 30 South St., Foxborough, Mass. A funeral Mass will be celebrated 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary’s Church, 58 South St., Foxborough, Mass. For additional information, please contact 508-543-5471. To light a candle in his memory, please visit the funeral home website at