Joanne (Donnelly) Gafas

May 9, 1947 ~ April 4, 2020 (age 72)


Bradford, VT - Joanne Barbara Donnelly Gafas passed away unexpectedly at her home in Bradford, VT on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

Joanne was born in Stony Point, Rockland County, NY on May 9, 1947 to parents Gerald Bernard Donnelly and Barbara Rose (Miller) Donnelly. Gerald was a first-generation Irish-American financier and WWII Captain in the U.S. Army Airborne. Barbara was a social worker and proud daughter of the American Revolution. Joanne was their only child, born with a strong will and the heart of a rebel. 

Joanne is survived by her children Gerald Bell (son), Jennifer Bell (daughter), and Mallory Gafas (daughter) as well as her grandchildren Kira Bell (granddaughter), Isaac Bell-Morey (grandson), Imogene Bell (granddaughter), and Murray Bell (grandson). She is also lovingly remembered by many friends and extended family in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Texas.

Joanne spent most of her childhood in Goshen and Campbell Hall, NY and attended Washingtonville High School in Washingtonville, NY. She was presented to society at the age of 18 at the Debutante Assembly in Manhattan before attending college in Connecticut. She then moved to New York City, where she married, had two children, and became an outspoken feminist and political activist. Drawn to country & western music and dance, warm weather, and a booming economy - Joanne ventured southward to Houston, Texas in 1976. There, she re-married, had her third child, and started saying “ya’ll”. After more than two decades in the South, her Yankee roots took her northward once again. In love with New England’s character and picturesque beauty, she re-settled in New Hampshire and then Vermont, spending her final years in the Upper Valley.

Throughout her life, Joanne worked as a real-estate investor, insurance broker, public servant, political activist, and homemaker. A passionate animal-rights activist, she was also a life-long supporter of several organizations devoted to animal welfare. In addition, Joanne was an active member of the West Newbury Congregational Church in West Newbury, VT for nearly 20 years. There, she helped coordinate church activities, attended Bible study, and participated in West Newbury’s annual variety show. Joanne enjoyed singing and dancing, caroling, staying physically fit, playing scrabble, voicing her opinion, decorating with the color purple, daily worship, and making people smile. Above all, Joanne was known as a fierce advocate of her beliefs, a loving mother, and a gracious friend.  

Joanne will be buried at the West Newbury, VT Cemetery on Rogers Hill Road. Arrangements are by Hale Funeral Home in Bradford, VT. Virtual and teleconference funeral services will be held by on Saturday, April 11th at 2pm ET (1pm CDT). For details, please contact Gerald Bell by phone at 214-718-8466 or e-mail at or Mallory Gafas by phone at 832-466-8082 or e-mail at In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

To plant a tree in memory of Joanne (Donnelly) Gafas, please visit our tribute store.


You can still show your support by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Joanne (Donnelly) Gafas
© 2020 Hale Funeral Home & Cremation Care. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use