Carnations 5

Helen Catherine (Murphy) Doona

June 3, 1936 ~ June 21, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old


Helen ("Lali") Catherine (née Murphy) Doona was raised in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston surrounded by an extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Known for her intellect and oratory skills, she excelled in academics and graduated from Mission Hill High School. While attending Stonehill College, she met her beloved and future husband James ("Jimmy" or "Buddy") Michael Doona. She also earned a law degree from Suffolk University Law School in Boston and practiced law for 47 years. Helen made an indelible mark on many lives in her large family, among long-time friends and cohorts, and in the kind people who participated in her charitable endeavors. She will be missed dearly.

Daughter of the late James Joseph Murphy Jr. and Muriel Rose (née Cook) Minard and pre-deceased by her siblings Jim and Ginny, Helen (nicknamed "Lali" in childhood) was the first granddaughter in a large, Irish Catholic family with numerous aunts and uncles, some close enough in age to be like siblings, and more than 50 cousins. Helen graduated from Mission Hill High School with academic honors, then attended Stonehill College in Easton.

At Stonehill College, Lali met the true love of her life, fellow student "Jimmy" Doona from Forest Hills. After graduating, the young couple were married in 1958, adding James and Catherine Doona, Katherine Doona, John and Rose (née Aiello) Doona, Mary Ellen Doona, and Ed and Ann (née Doona) Higgins as in-laws. The couple began their life together in Jamaica Plain, where their young family grew to eventually include five children. With the passing of her beloved, Helen raised the children and did house chores during the day, while attending Suffolk University Law School and studying at night.

After passing the Bar exam in 1971, Helen was recognized in a Boston Globe article, since there were few female attorneys at that time. She embarked on a 47-year career as an attorney with many accomplishments as an Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Newton, Assistant District Attorney in Plymouth County, in private practice, and as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor. Her foundational work investigating pension plan compliance contributed to uncovering the Enron scandal. Helen also served as Steward for AFGE Local 948, to help ensure a fair and equitable workplace for her co-workers.

Helen was the loving mother of Helen (née Doona) and her spouse Enoch Caudill of Newton, James Doona and his spouse Dr. Barbara Merry (Hopewell, NJ), the late Michelle (née Doona) and her spouse Chris Frawley (Suffield, CT), Steven Doona and his spouse the late Kathryn Tierney of Arlington, and Dr. Christopher and his spouse Darleen Doona of Marlborough. Helen took immense pride in the personalities and accomplishments of her offspring, and their offspring, too.

Helen was "Nannie" to ten grandchildren: Ian, Shane, Caitlin, Ben, Christine, Padráig, Aoife, Erin, Keara, Breann, and Murphy; and to great-grandson Milo. Her grandkids were her world. Nannie supplied them with countless collections of books, Beanie Babies, Legos, Disney Princess jewelry, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and holiday treats, including ribbon candy. Helen/Mom/Nannie enjoyed nothing more than family get-togethers with a festively decorated house and a crowded dinner-table bustling with family, friends, and love at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and other holidays.

Helen's generous spirit was especially apparent at Christmastime, when she organized “Mittens-and-Socks" collections for a local shelter, and when she created the “Tree of Love” initiative so local children in families of need would experience the warmth, happiness, and love of a joyous Christmas holiday. Aided by her family over the years, Helen collected donations of clothes, winter jackets, and Christmas goodies, while she also shopped for, wrapped, and delivered many Christmas gifts, even undertaking tasks such as assembling cribs and toys in apartment hallways.

Visiting hours will be held on Saturday 29 July 2023 from 9:00- 10:00 am, followed by a funeral Mass from 10:00 - 11:00 am, both at St. Matthias Parish in Marlborough MA (409 Hemenway St, Marlborough, MA 01752).

Helen ("Lali") will be peacefully laid to rest with her beloved "Jimmy" ("Buddy") Doona with a brief blessing at 12:30 pm at St Joseph Cemetery, 990 Lagrange St, West Roxbury 02132.

The family invites everyone to join us for lunch and Words of Remembrance from 1:00 - 3:30 at the West on Centre Restaurant, 1732 Centre St, Boston, MA 02132 (6 min from cemetery).

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital ( or the American Breast Cancer Foundation.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Helen Catherine (Murphy) Doona, please visit our floral store.

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July 29, 2023

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
Saint Matthias Church (Marlborough, MA)

Funeral Mass
July 29, 2023

10:00 AM
Saint Matthias Church (Marlborough, MA)

Graveside Service
July 29, 2023

12:30 PM
St Joseph Cemetery (West Roxbury)


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Tel: 1-800-805-5856

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation
28 West 44th Street, Suite 609, New York NY 10036


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