Deborah MacDonnell Obituary

Deborah Purvis MacDonnell
Deborah Purvis MacDonnell

July 14, 1964 - November 4, 2018
Born in New Haven, CT
Resided in Niantic, Connecticut


Deborah Purvis MacDonnell of Niantic passed away Sunday, Nov. 4, in the arms of the family she loved so much and wasn’t quite ready to leave behind.

Deb was born July 14, 1964, to Sandra and Richard Purvis. She grew up in Madison with her big brother Danny and a close-knit group of family friends known for their epic block parties. A 1982 graduate of Daniel Hand High School, she studied journalism at the University of Rhode Island, where she served as an editor of the student newspaper. She graduated from URI in 1986.

On Sept. 11, 1993, she married the love of her life, Bob MacDonnell of Niantic. She and Bob were blessed with two beautiful children, Madeline and Kyle, her pride and joy.

She began her career as a cub reporter at Shoreline Newspapers before moving into corporate communications at National Reinsurance Corporation, People’s Bank, and Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations. In 2006, she was hired as a senior writer at Connecticut College. She was promoted to director of public relations in June of 2007, and expertly served as a liaison between the college and the community for nearly 12 years.

Deb was well-known for her community service throughout Southeastern Connecticut. She joined the Rotary Club of New London in 2013, serving most recently as vice president before being named president-elect in June. She enjoyed all Rotary activities, but was particularly fond of pouring beer at the annual Brewfest at the Beach. This past summer, she was honored with the Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellowship. She served on the board of directors of the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition, volunteered regularly at the New London Community Meal Center, and taught Sunday school at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

She loved spending time on the beach and visiting with relatives. Deb was an avid reader, so books played a role in both her personal and her professional life. She loved her regular get-togethers with the “book club ladies,” and was instrumental in building a partnership between Connecticut College and the One Book One Region initiative, which increased participation in and fostered local conversations about some of literature’s modern masterpieces.

Deb’s favorite role in life was mother to her two children. An East Lyme Vikings superfan, she was always on the sidelines cheering on Maddy and Kyle, and served as the timekeeper for Kyle’s junior and senior lacrosse seasons. Most recently, she could be found cheering on Kyle at Drew University and celebrating Maddy’s recent graduation from Northeastern University.

In addition to her beloved husband and children, she is survived by her father Richard Purvis of Naples, FL; her brother Daniel Purvis of Wilton, CT, his wife Beth and their children, Megan, Sean and Alison; her mother-in-law Aspasea Hart of Old Lyme, CT, and her husband Joe; her brother-in-law George MacDonnell of Londonderry, NH, his wife Jade and their children, Owen and Olivia; her sister-in-law Amy Hart of Old Lyme, CT; stepmother-in-law Anita MacDonnell of North Attleboro, MA, and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends. She was preceded in death by her mother Sandra Purvis.

A Memorial Holy Eucharist and Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Niantic. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Rotary Club of New London or the Center for Hospice Care Southeast Connecticut.
Condolences may be shared on Deborah’s memorial page at

To plant a tree in memory of Deborah MacDonnell, please visit our Tribute Store.




Memorial Holy Eucharist And Celebration of Life
St. John's Episcopal Church
400 Main Street
Niantic, CT US 06357
Saturday, November 17, 2018
11:00 AM

Home    |    Request More Info    |

Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Home: 12 Ocean Avenue, New London, CT 06320 • 860-443-1871

Thomas L. Neilan & Sons East Lyme Funeral Home: 48 Grand Street, Niantic, CT 06357 • 860-739-6112

© Copyright  2010-2019 Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Homes  and FuneralNet®
Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Homes
Home | Request More Info | Call Anytime: 860-443-1871
Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A life well lived is worth remembering.