Mary J. Donovan

Mary J. Donovan

May 11, 1945 – November 28, 2023

Mary Joan (Smutny) Donovan passed away peacefully on November 28, 2023, after a struggle with Frontotemporal Dementia. Mary was born in Omaha, NE, on May 11, 1945, to her parents, Jim and Mary Smutny. She was the youngest of four children, with three older brothers, Jim, Chuck, and John.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Jim and John; and nephew, Michael. She is survived by husband, Rick; brother, Chuck; daughters, Cindy Willm (Rob) and Kym Nastase (Todd); and five beloved grandchildren: Jake, Conner, Gabrielle (Ellie), Nate Sorensen, and Alexa Jo Willms Smith.

Mary grew up in Omaha’s Morton Meadows neighborhood, attending Beals Elementary School and graduating from Mercy High School in 1963. She studied Interior Design at UNO for several years and spent her professional career in accounting and bookkeeping. In today’s age of computerized spreadsheets, she could make a ten-key adding machine sing.

Her main focus was her family and friends. No one was ever a stranger for long in Mary’s world. From the grocery store checkout line to the wooden bench seats at a high school football game, Mary would prove time and again, that everyone is separated by six degrees, and even fewer in Omaha. There are very few photographs that show Mary alone as she was always surrounded by family and friends.

She was an active participant in family life, from Smola and Smutny family gatherings, to babysitting, car rides, and attending school events for her daughters and grandkids. She raised her kids and grandkids with the accompaniment of animals, progressing from hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits, to dogs (Vizslas and Pugs) and cats (both domestic and feral). Both animal and human strays were welcome in Mary’s home. If St. Francis of Assisi needs help herding heaven’s animals, Mary is ready.

Visitation: Monday, December 4th, 5:30-7:00pm at West Center Chapel

Funeral Service: Tuesday, December 5th, 10:30am at West Center Chapel

Memorials are suggested to Mercy High School or Nebraska Humane Society.

To view a live broadcast of the Service please visit and click the “Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.



  • Shelley Burson Posted November 29, 2023 8:43 pm

    Kirk and I are thinking of you all. Mary holds a special place in the hearts of our family. Love and hugs to all.

    • Cindy Willms Posted December 26, 2023 3:21 pm

      Thanks Shell! I know you understand all too well!

  • lorene hasenjager melby Posted November 30, 2023 9:43 pm

    i was one of many best friends that mary had. she was the nicest and funniest person ever. i met her when i was in the 8th grade and we have been friends since then. i love you mary god bless you lorene

    • Cindy Willms Posted December 26, 2023 3:25 pm

      Thank you! Mom cherished your lifelong friendship!

  • Todd Nastase Posted December 2, 2023 1:16 pm

    I had the privilege of meeting Mary on June 12, 2021.
    She was kind,nice,and welcoming to me. She was a
    person that was ALL about family and friends. She
    was the type of person that was a welcoming to all
    to join there family. She had a great since of humor
    with and at me. I will miss her tremendously because
    of her smile and ability to love all. I had a nick name
    for her and when I called her that name, she always smiled.
    Kym a myself will miss going to lunch with her. She’d say
    I’m not hungry but would eat tons of food. Kym and I
    took her on a trip to see Chuck her brother. She thank
    us every chance that she could . We had a blast with
    her. Her red sweater on husker day will be missed. Im glad
    that she no longer has the effects on sickness, but l will
    miss her a lot. She will be missed by all that loved her.
    Love Todd

    • Cindy Willms Posted December 26, 2023 3:28 pm

      Thank you Todd! You were an amazing son-in-law and an amazing addition to our family!

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