A Bellevue couple died from injuries suffered in an eight-car crash Sunday on Interstate 24 near the Illinois-Kentucky border.
James and Marilyn Donnelly were returning from a swing dancing convention when a semi truck hit the car behind them, creating a chain reaction crash that killed the couple, ages 71 and 75, respectively, as well as another woman from Illinois. Six others were hospitalized.
The Donnellys were heavily involved in the South Omaha community. Jim, a retired IRS agent and accountant, served as secretary of both the Knights of Columbus Archbishop Ryan Council and the Omaha Retail Meat Dealers Association. Marilyn, a deputy clerk at the Douglas County Courthouse, was an active volunteer at St. Bernadette Catholic Church, known for her desserts.
The couple met while square dancing, and they shared a lifelong passion for it, traveling to events and conventions annually, said Marilyn’s sister, Lillian Remmert.
Jim was raised on a farm in Fairbank, Iowa. Remmert remembered her brother-in-law as a selfless servant who once arrived at her house after an ice storm with a giant power saw to cut up broken branches.
“It was a 500-pound branch and he did it by himself,” she said. “You can’t find a better brother-in-law or sister. I didn’t even ask them to do it, they were just there.”
Marilyn was raised in South Omaha, the granddaughter of Hungarian and Irish immigrants.
Remmert said her sister and brother-in-law were so selfless that they planned and paid for their funeral years ago to save their loved ones the hassle and heartache.
Neighbor Gary Wesely wrote an email to Jim’s fellow members of the Omaha Retail Meat Dealers Association after the accident, remembering the couple for their friendship, their frugality in saving the organization money and for “the very best” desserts and margaritas.
The couple are survived by daughter Kelly (Timothy) Intinarelli, son John P. (Cindy Cain-Sicpker) Donnelly and three grandchildren.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, John and Marie Donnelly. He is survived by brother John R. (Marita) Donnelly.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents, Cyril and Margaret Brosnihan; sister Elizabeth Brosnihan and nephew Ralph Remmert. She is survived by sisters Geraldine Brosnihan, Linda (Dean) Wilson, Lillian (Leroy) Remmert and Barbara (Ken) Fisher.
Visitation will be held on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. at St. Bernadette Catholic Church, 7600 S. 42nd St., with a vigil service at 7 p.m. Services will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Bernadette with burial to follow at Calvary Cemetery, 7710 West Center Road.