Sharon Connelly

Obituary of Sharon M. Connelly

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Sharon Connelly, 75, of Pittsburgh, joined her fellow saints and angels on January 4, with family and a dear friend by her side.

In her work and beyond, Sharon took on more roles than many people could even contemplate. After graduating from high school as co-valedictorian of Divine Redeemer Academy, she went on to earn her RN degree and a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Minnesota, where she had been assigned as a young Divine Redeemer nun. Never having been far from her home in Pittsburgh until then, Sharon channeled her homesickness into loving care for patients at the Divine Redeemer Hospital in South St. Paul.

She eventually returned to Pittsburgh and worked as a rehab nurse in the Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital Head Trauma Unit. From there, she moved on as a pediatric rehabilitation nurse at the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Unit, where she had the chance to dote on children and babies, possibly her favorite activity. At the institute, she received the 2015 Cameo of Caring Award as a nurse who consistently went above and beyond to put patients and staff before herself, a quality she was known for by her family and friends. Commenting on this honor, she said, "I am a nurse down to the core of my being!" Her compassion, skill, and humor also endeared her to colleagues and patients: she was nominated for, and won, the Daisy Award, another honor for outstanding nurses. Her colleagues recognized her skills and atitude with the best of compliments: "If my children were hurt and needed hospitalization, Sharon is the only person I'd want taking care of them."

Beyond her extraordinary compassion and care as a nurse, Sharon's love for others and zest for life were clearly evident outside of work. A skilled and passionate dancer, she loved swing, Cajun, and contra styles and made lifelong friends, including her husband Gary, through the many dances she attended in the Pittsburgh area and beyond.

Sharon's rehabilitation skills were not limited to humans. Animals, wild and domestic, were also the recipients of her loving care. She doted on numerous cats —and even a few lucky mice—over her lifetime and rescued various injured creatures, including a cow lost on a Minnesota highway, deer, and a young groundhog, transporting them from wherever she found them to wildlife rehabilitation centers. She shared a reverence and awe of natural beauty with Gary. Many of their early dates and subsequent vacations involved hiking on forest trails to mountain tops, waterfalls, or rock outcroppings or paddling on rivers or lakes or through marshes. All of their vacations included visiting wild animal sanctuaries or participating in such things as wolf howls, whale watches, or birds of prey demonstrations. Aside from babies, nothing enchanted her more than getting to hold young wolf pups or bear cubs, watching baby sea turtles finding their way back to the ocean or feeding a giraffe. Her interactions with other animals as both a volunteer at the Pittsburgh Zoo and a visitor to many other zoos filled her with the spirit she shared with everyone she met.

A longtime friend had this to say about Sharon: "Even in her teen years, Sharon had the perfect blend of intelligence, empathy, contagious joy, and an ever-present belief in social justice for everyone."

From homesick young nun to extraordinary nurse to wildlife adventurer to caring wife, Sharon took on all her life roles with a devotion to God and a determination to be the best she could be. The ripples she made in the world will last forever. Sharon's own words, from her valedictorian speech, about who she wanted to become and how she wanted say goodbye are telling: "a woman of courage—a woman who dares to risk the price of active involvement, a woman who loves enough to brave involvement, a woman who adheres to the conviction that a life of happiness is essentially a life of commitment to causes greater than herself. . . . In parting, we pray God's blessing on each of you. With smiles and tears, we say 'farewell.'"

Sharon is survived by her loving husband and best friend Gary Thomas; beloved brother Bruce Connelly (Mimi Frey); cherished sister Maureen Lewis (Charles); dear niece Brittany and dear nephew Tim; her other "sisters," devoted sisters-in-law Cynthia Roy, Linda Mackley, and Kathy Thomas; and numerous beloved cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, Frank M. and Grayce J. Connelly.

Visitation will be held at Thomas L. Nied Funeral Home, 7441 Washington St, Pittsburgh, PA 15218, on Thursday, January 19, from 2 to 6PM. A funeral service will be held at Madonna del Castello Church, 2021 S. Braddock Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15218, on Friday, January 20, at 12 noon with Reverend Frank Almade of St. Joseph the Worker Parish officiating. The family asks that masks be worn at all times at both the funeral home and the church. Private burial will follow at Good Shepherd Cemetery.

In lieu of a lunch reception after the Mass, an outdoor Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Memorial donations may be made to Angel's Place, 2538 Woodstock Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15218 ( In lieu of flowers, please do something nice for a friend, a family member, an animal, or a stranger.



The family asks that masks be worn at all times at both the funeral home and the church.

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Visitation at Funeral Home

2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Thomas L. Nied Funeral Home, Inc.
7441 Washington St.
Swissvale, Pennsylvania, United States
The family asks that masks be worn at all times at both the funeral home and the church.


12:00 pm
Friday, January 20, 2023
Madonna Del Castello
2021 South Braddock Avenue
Swissvale, Pennsylvania, United States
The family asks that masks be worn at all times at both the funeral home and the church.
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Sharon Connelly

In Loving Memory

Sharon Connelly

1947 - 2023

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