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Mary Foley Bulger, wife of former state Senate president, dies at 84

Mary Bulger and William Bulger were at a party at the U-Mass Boston Campus Center in 2008.Brett, Bill Globe Photo/The Boston Globe

Mary Foley Bulger, who was married for 60 years to William M. Bulger, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate and the University of Massachusetts system, died Sunday, according to a death notice posted online by the O’Brien Funeral Home in South Boston.

She was 84 and died at home. Her family held a private funeral Mass in keeping with current restrictions on large gatherings under the state’s coronavirus reopening plan, according to the death notice due to be published in the Globe.

She was a proud, lifelong South Boston resident, the daughter of Martin and Sarah Foley, immigrants from County Galway in Ireland, and attended her senior prom at the since-closed Gate of Heaven High School with William Bulger, the notice says.


She devoted her life to the raising of her nine children, and later to being “Nana” to 33 grandchildren and was a faithful Catholic who “loved hosting gatherings of family and friends at her home,” according to the notice.

“She was an exceptionally talented baker and gardener,” the notice says. “Mary dedicated herself in service to her church and community. No task was too great or too small, from leading fundraising efforts to crafting the perfect wreath bow. Her sole purpose in these endeavors was to improve the lives of others. She went about her work quietly and tirelessly, never seeking recognition for her many contributions.”

William Bulger and Mary Bulger at the Boston Public Library Foundation's centennial celebration in 1995. Brett, Bill Globe Staff

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Bulger leaves six sons, William Jr., James, Daniel all of South Boston, Patrick of Norwell, Christopherof Hanson, and Brendan of Illinois; three daughters, Mary Bulger Hurley of South Boston, Sarah Piscatelli, and Kathleen Webb of Hingham; a sister, Claire Noenickx of Quincy; and 33 grandchildren.

A public celebration of her life will be planned.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him @jeremycfox.