Carol O'Toole

Obituary of Carol A O'Toole


Carol A. (McDonnell) O’Toole was determined to not waste a minute of her time on this earth, both in caring for those she knew and loved, and those she sensed needed comfort and help.


Born to Mary (“Molly”) Agnes Dever and George Ignatius McDonnell on June 8, 1937, Carol grew up in Milton, Massachusetts. After graduating from Milton High, she took a job at the Boston Telephone Company, sharing the daily commute into Scollay Square with her brother Richard.


In 1962, she met and married Bob O’Toole, with whom she shared not only a deep and unshakable love, but an innate desire to help others. Her decision to apply to nursing school at the age of 38 epitomized her drive to build a well-rounded life that included raising a family, pursuing a vocation, and serving her community.


After a short stint at the former Boston City Hospital -- where she slept for four nights during the Blizzard of ’78 -- Carol took a job as a registered nurse in the emergency room at Brockton Hospital. She spent more than 20 years there attending to acute and complex medical issues while also caring for people experiencing substance use, chronic homelessness, and mental health challenges – much of it at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Her competency and compassion earned her the respect of physicians and nurses alike and she was nominated by her peers as Nurse of the Year during her tenure.     


Carol retired from Brockton Hospital in the early 2000s but her nursing career continued. Her lifelong thirst for learning took her to Massachusetts General Hospital where she helped physicians and nurses master newly implemented electronic medical records. She finished her career at South Shore Medical Center as an anti-coagulation nurse, testing and counseling patients at risk for developing blood clots – a job she cherished for its professional autonomy and the relationships she was able to forge with her patients, whom she saw on a weekly basis.   


Her sense of social justice was born out of her Catholic faith. Concerned about the growing numbers of homeless individuals and families outside the doors of Brockton Hospital, she began volunteering at MainSpring, a local downtown shelter that now is a network of social services agencies focused on preventing homelessness across the South Shore. Working with her husband, she spent several hours a year at My Brother’s Keeper, delivering food and furniture to families in need. She took two trips to the country of Haiti to help build schools for local children.  


In her own community, she took care of everyone: Hosting dinner parties for people who had recently lost their spouses, cooking and delivering meals to those recovering from illness, volunteering at the local senior center, driving friends and neighbors to cancer treatments at Boston hospitals and using her nursing skills to provide support or advice to whomever asked. Carol strove to live a life of purpose and service. 


Above all else, Carol was a constant support to her family: husband Bob (deceased); daughters, Nancy Steenbruggen and Kerin O’Toole; son, Sean (deceased); granddaughters, Emily and Molly Steenbruggen; and sons-in-law, Ken Steenbruggen and Ray Wise. She never missed an opportunity to cheer on her children and grandchildren in whatever they were doing, big or small, and created a home filled with warmth, beauty, and unconditional love. Holidays were magic and every special occasion and life event marked with the perfect touch.


She died peacefully at home with her family by her side on Saturday, May 1.


Relatives and friends are invited to visiting hours and her Funeral Mass.

Visiting hours will take place on Monday, May 10 at Shepherd Funeral Home, 216 Main Street, Kingston from 4 – 8pm.

The Funeral Mass will be said on Tuesday, May 11 at Holy Family Catholic Church, Duxbury at 10am.  In lieu of flowers, donations in Carol’s memory can be made to Father Bill’s & MainSpring at or by mailing a donation to 430 Belmont Street, Brockton, MA 02301.   









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