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On October 12, 1963, Tracy Ann was born, the first of two beautiful daughters to Jack and Carole Conley in South Boston, Massachusetts. The young Conley family of four spent their early years in Southie before Jack and Carole decided to buy their very first house in South Weymouth, Massachusetts to continue raising their two beautiful girls. Now South Weymouth is a beautiful community, with wonderful families, schools, and beaches, much like here in Madison. There is no doubt that’s why Tracy ultimately decided to raise her family here.
Tracy attended Catholic School in Weymouth her entire childhood, graduating from Sacred Heart High School in 1982. After graduating, Tracy set her eyes on the future and enrolled at Bridgewater State University to pursue a degree in speech pathology. She wanted to work with kids and give them that little bit of extra help they needed. it would become her life’s passion. More to come on that later.
It was also during the summer of ‘82 that Tracy met a fantastic young guy at Nantasket Beach in Hull, Massachusetts, and they spent the most incredible summer together, going to the beach, drive-in movies, and all the stuff that young kids do when they are falling in love. Tracy thought Jimmy DeCosta was such a great guy in fact that she decided to bring him home to meet her family, a very big step in those days! Of course, Jimmy wowed Jack and Carole with his charm and good looks; it was all going so well until they learned that Jimmy and his two brothers had also grown up in Southie and in Lower End to boot. Good grief! Now Tracy’s parents are 100 percent Irish and grew up in South Boston; without a doubt they are still proud to call Southie their home town. But Jack and Carole had seen firsthand the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of growing up in Southie. Their only hope was that Jimmy and Tracy had been raised right and adopted the positive values of the neighborhood where they had grown up. Being fiercely loyal to friends, being a fiery competitor, and loving and protecting family always. That’s how the “good kids” were raised in Southie. As Jimmy and Tracy’s love grew into something very, very, very special over the next four years, it was clear to Tracy’s parents that she had made the right choice in Jimmy and they were happy.
On June 14, 1986, Jimmy and Tracy were married at St. Francis Xavier in Weymouth. It was an absolutely wonderful day with the young couple surrounded by loving friends and family. After honeymooning on Nantucket, Jimmy and Tracy’s great adventure continued in Baltimore, Maryland where they welcomed the first of three beautiful children, Ashley. Ashley was and still is just like her mother, loving, competitive, and fiercely loyal. Her passion for swimming started at a very young age and continued through college and now into coaching USA Swimming. Of course there was nothing that Tracy liked doing more than watching Ashley swim and cheering her on and, no surprise, Tracy wasn’t quiet at poolside as you might imagine. She was loud!!! Gratefully, Tracy never lost her accent and I think people loved that about her.
In 1991, Tracy and Jimmy welcomed their first son into the world, Ryan. Blond haired and blue eyed, Ryan was shockingly cute, clearly Tracy’s son! A wonderful young boy, Ryan had, and still does have, a passion for racing. Of course, Tracy did everything to support his love. Whatever her kids needed, Tracy was there without question. In 1999, Jim and Tracy’s life adventure would bring them back to New England when they relocated their family to the beautiful community of Madison.
Now, since Tracy’s favorite number is 3, she longed for just one more kid! In 2001, her prayers were answered as they welcomed Conor Donovan DeCosta into the world! Tracy thoroughly enjoyed the long summer days at the Surf Club building sandcastles and tossing the Frisbee with her kids. As Conor grew, (and it seems like he still is), Jim taught Conor how to skate and Tracy evolved into a “hockey mom.” As most of you know hockey moms are a unique breed, wildly passionate about their kids and Tracy was no different. Being a hockey mom was part of her DNA. It was a great fit. Of course, she always wanted Conor to have fun on the ice, compete hard but most importantly she wanted him to “be badass” on the ice. In a good kind of way; you hockey moms know what I’m talking about.
Of course, in Madison, baseball is huge with the Little League program having a long and storied history of success. Through Jim, Tracy immersed herself in the game; she always supported Jim (aka “Coach D”). All of the good things he demonstrated to the kids between the lines, (passion, love, and support) Jim actually learned from Tracy. On the sidelines, she cheered on our boys to countless victories and championships, and of course a few tough losses. But in her mind learning how to deal with the losses was just as important as learning how to win and she instilled that in all of her kids and probably Jim. She was always teaching and coaching. There is no doubt how much she enjoyed being part of something truly special at the Wesleyan Pool, on the baseball fields in Madison, at the Rink in Northford, and cheering on Conor as he competed with his “brothers” at Xavier. Little did she know though how big a part she actually had played!
In 2016, when Conor decided to go to Xavier, Tracy decided it would be a good time to continue her life’s passion and work with kids who could use a little bit of extra help. She joined the Middletown Public Schools as a paraprofessional where she brought her wisdom, love, and passion to bear to help “her kids” with autism. Very challenging work as most will know but very rewarding for Tracy especially after she “cracked the code” on each one and made a connection. She loved her co-workers at Spencer and Lawrence Elementary schools so much. Of course, Tracy loved all of her kids at school; but she especially loved “her boy” Jaden this year. She’s going to miss helping him. All of her colleagues and kids were blessed to see and feel the love of Mrs. D every day. It’s what we all loved about Tracy.
So, what is the essence of Tracy though; what did she truly and passionately love? Oh boy, it’s a lot! First and foremost, she loved her family and raising her three wonderful kids like she was raised. She was at every school and sporting event and I mean every one! Nothing warmed her heart more than seeing Ashley swim, Ryan play ball, and Conor on the ice or on the mound.
At the lake house Tracy was happiest kayaking with her kids and her dog or dropping a line in to catch her “sunnies” swimming around the dock. There was always time for one more cast.
At home she had a passion for cooking, just “throwing something together.” Her heart grew as she watched her family devour all of her concoctions. On Christmas mornings her traditional Monkey Bread was an even bigger draw than the presents under the tree!
She also took great joy in decorating her house with her Byers Choice Carolers, something that her mother, Carole, had passed on to her. She genuinely enjoyed watching Thomas the Tank Engine with her boys and at Halloween, her handmade costumes were a big hit. Even Dad couldn’t tell who was who!
She loved going on long walks at Chatfield Hollow, walking the beach collecting seaglass (preferably turquoise!) at Hammonassett before stopping at her favorite Coffee Shop to chat with her friends or stop by the Audubon Shop on the way home to get some seed for her beloved birds. She had quite a flock, not only of birds, but friends too!
Game night with the kids was always a big hit. And her fiery spirit shown though every spring when March Madness rolled around—she was SO competitive! She owned the tournament in 2019 and set records that the Tournament Commissioner is positive will never be broken!
In the morning and early evening, you could always find Tracy watering and nurturing her vegetable and flower garden. With the help of her “carpenter,” she has transformed Conor’s old swing set and Ryan’s treehouse into Tracy’s Garden. It was one of her most favorite places to be. “I’m in the garden” she would sing whenever you stepped in, smiling from ear to ear. Now as some of you may not know, Tracy saw colors and patterns in everything. So, her Garden is not only functional, but it is also beautiful! Everything is balanced in shape and color. It had to be. She planted flowers for her bees to help make her garden grow. This year, in fact, she planted lavender and gerbera daisies, two of her favorites flowers to help her cukes, peppers, and zucchinis grow! She loved learning and experimenting with new things to grow. As we all know, it was truly in her nature.
After taking care of her garden, Tracy loved tossing the Frisbee to her rescue dog Sugar, most likely the best athlete in the DeCosta family! Her favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz, with the Scarecrow being her favorite character. Thanks to her Dad Jack, Tracy had developed a passion for reading; she could, if she wanted to, completely read a book every day! Because of this she was incredibly bright and consistently kicked her kids’ butts when watching her favorite show Jeopardy. She definitely was the Brainy one in the family! What made Tracy truly special, though, is not that she was smart. It was that, like the Tin Man, she also had the Biggest Heart.
Tracy died on June 17. We all lost someone very, very special. Although our hearts are broken, we should take comfort knowing that Tracy’s love, passion, and that competitive spirit she had lives on in all of us, her family and friends. I truly believe that and I know Tracy wouldn’t have it any other way. Through your incredible outpouring of support, Tracy is now discovering how much meaning her life had, how much it mattered. As much as we all loved Tracy, she would want you to know that she loved you even more, she truly did.
Tracy is survived by her husband Jim along with their daughter Ashley and sons Ryan and Conor of Madison; her parents Jack and Carole Conley of South Weymouth, Massachusetts; sister Kerri and her husband Bill Connolly along with their sons Shane and Trevor of South Weymouth, Massachusetts; father-in-law Jim Horn of Dorchester, Massachusetts; brother-in-law Ed and his wife Linda DeCosta along with their sons David and Brian and daughter Laura of Morgantown, West Virginia; brother-in-law Michael and his wife Dawn along with their son Andrew and daughter Camryn of Brookfield, and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins who will miss her dearly.
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!