Cover photo for Eleanor "Ellie" A. Mara's Obituary
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1932 Eleanor "Ellie" 2023

Eleanor "Ellie" A. Mara

September 16, 1932 — August 23, 2023

Eleanor “Ellie” (Palliola) Mara, 90, of Northborough, formerly of Worcester, died with dignity and peace in her home on Aug. 23, 2023, transcending the disease of dementia. She lived a life of caring. She cared deeply about, and deeply for, her family, her friends, her patients, and her furry family members.

She was born Sept. 16, 1932, in Worcester to the late Mario and Margaret (Polini) Palliola Sr. Her brother, Mario Palliola Jr., passed in June 2022.  

As a child, she was a frequent visitor to her mother’s family’s downstairs bakery, Polini’s Bread on Douglas Street, where she often played after the day’s baking ended. When she was older, she worked the soda fountain at her father’s pharmacy, Fisher Drug Store on Grafton Hill.

She graduated from South High School and Becker Junior College. She became a registered nurse, graduating from Hahnemann Hospital School of Nursing, with many honors, and then Anna Maria College in Paxton where she received an undergraduate degree in sociology and a master’s in psychology/counseling. In 1981, she was proudly among the first RNs in Massachusetts to receive training and certification as a nurse practitioner, and later, became board certified as a family nurse practitioner. Working at Hahnemann for most of her career, she ultimately became director of maternal/child/adolescent nursing. She subsequently joined Worcester State Hospital as a nurse practitioner where she cared for patients until she retired at age 75. 

Her favorite pastime was walking one, or even two, of the nine dogs she had over the years, most of them rescues. She also enjoyed taking them on rides over hill and dale in Northborough and surrounds in her Volvo station wagon. She doted on them with love and devotion, giving all of them their very best lives. 

She is survived by her son, Joseph Mara and his partner, Joseph Henderson, of Northborough; her daughter, Cathy Mara and her husband, Richard Eckel, of Sudbury, as well as her grandchildren, Rianna Eckel of Baltimore, MD, Michaela Eckel of Toronto, ON, Canada, and Jonathan Eckel of Sudbury. She considered her cousin, Linda Polini McEvoy of Shrewsbury, her sister. She also leaves cousins, Edward Benecchi, Jr. (Mary) and Edwina Lundquist of Auburn; nephews, Michael Palliola of Newburyport and Michael Demers of Westborough, as well as two granddogs and a great-granddog. 

The family offers endless gratitude to Jewish Home Hospice of Worcester for the heartfelt care and support they provided during her illness, especially Mandy and Jody. Many, many thanks are also owed to her personal caregivers, Tawanna, Tina, Audrey, and Maria, as well as the spiritual end-of-life support provided by Lindsay of Ritual Roots. These caregivers continued to ensure that, while Ellie spent her entire professional career in hospital settings, she herself was never admitted to a health care facility.

Calling hours and burial in St. John’s Cemetery, Worcester, were private. The family was grateful for the assistance provided by Mercadante Funeral Home, 370 Plantation St., Worcester.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Ellie’s name to Jewish Home Hospice (, 646 Salisbury St., Worcester 01609; to the humane society of your choosing, or to the Alzheimer’s Association (

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