BOSTON (CBS) — A public relations spokeswoman who has been a mainstay in the Boston area for decades has passed away after a battle with coronavirus. Donna Morrissey’s family is devastated, but are proud of her memory.
“We know Donna’s in a better place now,” said Donna’s sister Meghan. “She wanted to make sure we all knew that she was fighting this, and that she was strong for us, not to be worried and that she was at peace. She was more concerned about making sure that we weren’t scared despite what she was going through.”
Morrissey started her career in TV News, working at WBZ-TV in the 90s as an assignment editor. Reporter Bill Shields remembers well.
“She had to handle eight or ten crews at a time, a number of reporters and she did real well,” he said. “She always did it with a laugh and a smile. You could poke fun at her and you could give it right back to you. It was great.”
“On behalf of everyone at WBZ-TV, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Donna’s family and friends. Donna had a profound impact on all her colleagues with her passion, energy and warm smile. She was well respected across the community and will be greatly missed,” President and General Manager of WBZ-TV Mark Lund said in a statement.
Morrissey later became known worldwide as spokesperson for the Boston Archdiocese during the height of the clergy abuse scandal. From there, she went on to the American Red Cross. She highlighted blood donations and frequently went to the front lines of humanitarian disasters.
On April 9, Morrissey posted a photo of herself at the hospital three weeks after her diagnosis urging people to take the virus seriously saying lives depend on it. She was 51-years-old.
“She really lit up a room. She could engage with everybody and really was just a strong spirit,” Meghan Morrissey said. “I think it really drills home how insidious this disease is that somebody as strong and as vibrant as she — that it just overtook her.”
The American Red Cross released a statement saying: “The American Red Cross is deeply saddened to learn that Donna Morrissey has passed away. Our heartfelt condolences are with our team member’s family and friends.
Donna was a dedicated, kind and talented humanitarian who, over her many years with our organization, worked daily to encourage the need for lifesaving blood donations while also deploying to numerous large-scale disasters and mass casualty events including Superstorm Sandy, Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Pulse Nightclub shooting, and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to name a few. She never hesitated to do whatever she could to help those in need during their most devastating moments, whether that was a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on.
Donna’s heartfelt compassion, vibrant spirit and unwavering dedication will be dearly missed by her Red Cross family.”
Regan Communications Group Chairman George K. Regan also released a statement saying: “Donna Morrissey was a tornado-like force who helped make Regan Communications what it is today. When I first met this assignment editor at WBZ-TV, I knew she had what it takes to thrive in public relations. Donna had panache and duende, becoming a trailblazer for Boston journalists successfully crossing over to public relations. Donna was smart and sweet and her heart was boundless. She only spent 51 short years on this Earth but didn’t waste a second of it.
Donna had an amazing zest for life, whether it was getting into PR mud fight, going bowling, or getting us in trouble at the yacht club while gassing up my speedboat on Martha’s Vineyard. Our relationship has always been that of brother-sister as opposed to boss-employee. When Donna approached me with an opportunity to work for the Archdiocese of Boston, I encouraged her to do it, not realizing two months later the Globe Spotlight series and Donna’s work would make her a worldwide figure in public relations. Our relationship always remained close and I will miss my dear friend with the heart of gold.”