Gloria Jean (Scott) Conway, the longtime publisher and managing editor of the Charlestown Patriot, died Dec. 23. She was 71 years old.
Born on July 17, 1940, in Westerly, R.I., Mrs. Conway was the daughter of Peter and Dorothy Scott. She graduated from Boston’s Simmons College in 1962 with a bachelor of science in nursing before serving as a visiting nurse in Charlestown, the West End, the North End and East Boston. Mrs. Conway was later named the assistant head nurse for the medical clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
On May 15, 1965, Mrs. Conway married Charlestown native James W. Conway.
Two years later, Mrs. Conway was named publisher and managing editor of the Charlestown Patriot, and for nearly 40 years, she reported the news of the community in that role.
“I honestly think Gloria was an institution,” said David Whelan, vice chair of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council, a Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard board member and lifelong Charlestown resident. “She was successfully running a business before women were accepted in those roles. She kept Charlestown informed, objectively and without bias.”
Mrs. Conway’s seemingly endless service to the community included serving as the treasurer of Townie Santa – organization she helped establish in 1982 – from its inception until 2005, and as the chairperson of the Charlestown Fire Victims Fund from 1985 to 1988. Under her guidance, the relief fund, which was established in 1985 to support 21 families left homeless by fires on Sheafe and Wall streets, raised $54,000 in just six weeks.
Mrs. Conway was also the past president of Charlestown Historical Society; vice president of the Bunker Hill Monument Association; a founding member and past president of the Life Focus Center board of directors; president of Simmons College Class of 1962 alumnae; past matron and treasurer of the Vesta Chapter, Order of Eastern Star; past chairwoman of Charlestown Against Drugs (CHAD); and former secretary of the Charlestown Preservation Society.
Mrs. Conway was a board member of the Charlestown Working Theater and a member of the Bunker Hill Unit 26, American Legion Auxiliary, as well as secretary of the Massachusetts Citizens Against Forced Busing and chairwoman of the 1966 Charlestown Health Fair.
“Gloria was a mother, a wife and a friend to many in the Charlestown community and beyond,” State Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty said. “She worked tirelessly on behalf of many organizations that brought great benefit to the Charlestown community. She was somebody everybody knew, respected and loved.”
Deservedly, Mrs. Conway’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed: She received the ABCD Community Service Award and the Charlestown Kiwanis Award in 1988; the Department of Massachusetts, American Legion Weekly Newspaper Award in 1991; and the Charlestown Appreciation Committee Senior Citizen Award in 2006.
“Gloria was one of the giants of the community,” said Tom Cunha, chair of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council and lifelong Charlestown resident. “She championed all the right causes. A committee wasn’t a committee without Gloria on it. Though she wasn’t born here, she loved this Charlestown community more than most.”
Mrs. Conway and her husband James also served as co-chief marshals of the 2000 Bunker Hill Day Parade.
“‘How can I help, how can we make it better?” were among Gloria Conway’s favorite questions,” said Judy Evers, a lifelong resident who currently serves as City Councilor Sal LaMattina’s liaison to Charlestown. “Her commitment to the neighborhood and the newspaper served us all well, and I am sorry to have lost my friend of 50 years.”
Mrs. Conway was predeceased by husband James, and is survived by children Dorothy Conway and her partner Tom Bowers of Cornelius Ore., and Timothy Conway, his wife Amy Street, and grandson Eamon James of Charlestown.
Visiting hours will be held at the John H. Sawyer Funeral Home, 329 Bunker Hill St., today, Thursday, Dec. 29, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. The funeral service follows at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 27 Devens St., at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited. Interment will be at Woodlawn Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances in Mrs. Conway’s name can be made to Townie Santa, P.O. Box 54, Charlestown, MA 02129.