James B. Conway 

July 14, 2021

James B. Conway 

James B. Conway – Of Woburn, peacefully, July 14, 2021, at 74 years of age. Beloved husband of Joanne (Duffy) Conway.  Loving father of Christopher Conway, his partner Laura Udden of Woburn, Kerry Conway, her husband Bryan Schwarzel of Leominster and Peter Conway, his wife Lucy of Topsfield.  Dear brother of John Conway Jr., his wife Judith of Randolph the late Thomas Conway, Maureen Conway of Quincy, Francis Conway, his wife Patricia of N. Weymouth and Eileen Conway-Martin, her husband John Martin of PEI, Canada.  Brother-in-law of Carol Surette, her late husband Alan of Wilmington.  Loving Grampy of Joseph, Aislinn and Declan Conway and Arianna, Leili and Sonata Conway.  Also survived by many nieces, nephew, cousins and friends. Relatives and friends are invited to Jim’s Funeral Service, Thursday, July 22nd, at 11 a.m., in the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main St., Woburn.  Interment will take place at the convenience of the family. Calling hours will be held in the funeral home on Wednesday, July 21st from 4-8 p.m.  All attending are asked to enter through the front door of the Funeral Home and exit through the back door. Donations may be made in Jim’s memory to the Council of Social Concern 2 Merrimac St, Woburn, MA 01801. Online donations may also be made at socialconcern.org

James B Conway, a longtime resident of Woburn, died peacefully, surrounded by his family, at Lahey Hospital on July 14th.   He was the beloved husband, for 51 years, of Joanne M (Duffy) Conway.

Jim was brought up in Dorchester, the son of John J Conway and Nora Marie (O’Leary) Conway and one of 6 siblings.  He graduated from St Mary’s High School in Cambridge and received a Bachelor’s of Science from Boston State University, and a Master’s of Science from Lesley University in Cambridge.

He began his Healthcare Career at Children’s Hospital in Boston, progressing over 27 years to an Assistant Hospital Director.  From 1995 -2005 he was the COO and Executive Vice President at Dana-Farber Cancer Center.  From 2006-2009 he was Senior Vice President of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and from 2005-2011 a Senior Fellow.  From 2006-2009 he was an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health.  Throughout his career his focus was on patient safety, patient and family-centered care, crises management and governance and executive management.  He lectured nationally and internationally on these topics.  He always put the patient first and lived the motto of his favorite Disney Character, Jiminy Cricket, “Let your conscience be your guide”.

He received the 1999 American College of Healthcare Executive’s Mass Regent’s award and in 2001 the first individual Leadership Award in Patient Safety by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the National Committee for Quality Assurance.  In 2008, he received the Picker Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Patient-Centered Care, in 2009 the Mary Davis Barber Heart of Hospice Award from the Hospice and Palliative Care Federation, and in 2012 the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Leadership Award, the first Honorary Fellowship of the National Association for Healthcare Quality, the Honorary Fellowship (First)  of the National Association of Healthcare Quality, and the Massachusetts Heath Council Award for Contribution.  The Mass Health and Hospital Association, in 2016 presented him with their MHA Trustee Excellence in Leadership Award.  In 2017 Jim received the American Cancer Society St George National Award.   

Above all he loved his family and took great joy in everything they did.  Whether it was trips to Disney or Ireland, having fun in the back yard, or going on short outings, he was always happiest when the children and grandchildren were around.  He and his wife, Joanne, enjoyed numerous trips and cruises around the world.  After his retirement he was able to spend more time in the garden and entertaining friends and family there.  He enjoyed genealogy research and creating family trees for extended family.  His cousins in Ireland were near to his heart despite the distance and he loved hosting them in his home when they travelled “across the pond” or visiting them and his family homestead when “Himself” and his family travelled to Ireland. 

He loved singing and was an enthusiastic member of St Charles and St Anthony in Woburn choirs and Immaculate Conception in Cambridge choir.  For a lot of his life he was a scout supporter, first as a scout, then as a scout leader.  One of his great joys was participating, along with his sons, in the Boy Scout Jamboree in Portumna, Ireland in 1985, as a scout leader.  He served on many Institutional Boards, two local ones being Winchester Hospital and Lahey Hospital. 

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother Thomas.

He is survived by his wife, Joanne M (Duffy) Conway and his children:  Christopher Conway and his partner, Laura Udden of Woburn; Kerry Conway and her husband Bryan Schwarzel of Leominster; and Peter Conway and his wife Lucy of Topsfield and his grandchildren:  Joseph, Aislinn and Declan Conway and Arianna, Leili and Sonata Conway; his siblings: John Conway, Jr, and his wife Judith of Randolph, Maureen Conway of Quincy, Francis, and his wife Patricia of N Weymouth, and Eileen Conway-Martin and her husband John Martin of PEI, Canada;  his sister-in-law, Carol Surette of Wilmington, and nieces, nephew, cousins and friends.

Relatives and friends are invited to Jim’s Funeral Service, Thursday, July 22nd, at 11 a.m., in the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main St., Woburn.  Interment will take place at the convenience of the family. Calling hours will be held in the funeral home on Wednesday, July 21st from 4-8 p.m.  All attending are asked to enter through the front door of the Funeral Home and exit through the back door. Donations may be made in Jim’s memory to the Council of Social Concern 2 Merrimac St, Woburn, MA 01801. Online donations may also be made at socialconcern.org 

Relatives and friends are invited to Jim’s Funeral Service, Thursday, July 22nd, at 11 a.m., in the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main St., Woburn.  Interment will take place at the convenience of the family. Calling hours will be held in the funeral home on Wednesday, July 21st from 4-8 p.m.  All attending are asked to enter through the front door of the Funeral Home and exit through the back door. Donations may be made in Jim’s memory to the Council of Social Concern 2 Merrimac St, Woburn, MA 01801. Online donations may also be made at socialconcern.org


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  1. To the Conway family, we are all so sorry for your loss. Many remembrances here have cited Jim’s essential and fundamental impact on making healthcare better, starting with safety. I want to add that amidst and at the center of all the other qualities mentioned, Jim had courage. And clarity. He had the courage to tell the truth about harm, to help others face that truth, and to then move forward with essential clarity of purpose toward better. As a leader of people as well as a leader of the sector, Jim made a great mark, contributed so much to so many, will be missed, and will be remembered as others go on to try to do their best work. Ken Segel

  2. David Ferreira

    My condolences to the Conway family, in this time of great loss. Jim had a huge heart that matched his commitment. He navigated the Institute through challenging times, and help sculpt Dana-Farber into the word class organization it is today. He gave people around him the realization that we had an amazing opportunity to do the incredible, and that we were all part of something very special. May his legacy live on in each one of us.

  3. Joanne & Family,
    Sincere & deepest sympathy to you and all the family on Jim’s passing. He was a wonderful ambassador for the Conway families, both in USA & Ireland, and no doubt over these sad days you will reflect on his many wonderful interactions on both sides of the Atlantic, and for us it was the Conway reunions in Co Clare, which hopefully will continue.
    May he rest in peace and he will be remembered by Monica, Adrian, Aoife & myself.

    Joe Conway & Family – Tipperary

  4. Patti Ann Costa

    Joanne and Kerri, I am so sorry. Jim was a wonderful man. He will be missed by all who knew him. Patti Montecalvo Costa

  5. My condolences to the Conway family. Having become aware of Jim through working for AHRA (an association of radiology administrators) in the early 1990s, I know that his leadership benefited any group or effort he joined. When my focus shifted to patient safety, I was delighted to find Jim again leading and teaching others, including me. He was truly unique, gifted and humble. It’s been the best kind of privilege to have known him — what a difference he made for so many! Irreplaceable…

  6. Nicholas Leydon

    To Jim’s family — thank you for sharing Jim’s light with us for so many years. He was a gift to the patient safety community and will be missed. The ripple effects of his life’s work are felt around the world, including here in Seattle. I’m sad to hear of his passing and I wish you peace amidst your loss.

  7. Jim was an incredibly kind and respectful leader who fiercely advocated for the patient. I will be forever grateful for our mornings spent in the HSPH cafeteria chatting about quality and patient safety, and the best academic experience of my career (his class on management and leadership at HSPH). My sincere condolences to the Conway family.

  8. The many comments are a testament to the love, affection and respect we all have for Jim. He was a brilliant mind, a kind soul, who was dedicated to his family, friends and social justice. His work to improve the lives of patients and families, healthcare safety, quality and to inspire and grow leaders in healthcare by gently mentoring us by example and tutelage is beyond compare. We are all better for having known him and from being a part of his orbit.
    Jim spent many a morning in the HSPH cafeteria mentoring myself and other young professionals. My time taking his courses there are some of the most impactful and memorable of my career. At IHI, he would often meet with us Fellows and provide sage guidance on matters of healthcare quality, safety and leadership. He was always quick to show you a picture of his garden and flowers, his family and always his grandchildren.
    Jim, I will miss our talks, your infectious smile and your passion for improvement, but am forever blessed for having known you. May your family find comfort in the fact that you were beloved by so many. Your good and noble work continues through your positive influence on so many. To Jims’s family: Thank you for sharing Jim with us all and may his soul rest in the peace of a life well lived. May his memory be a blessing and a comfort.

  9. My condolences to Jim’s family. Jim served with my father Pat on the board of the Ronald McDonald house. His concern was always what is best for the families who stayed at the house. He really cared about those families. He was a genuinely nice man and he will be missed.

  10. Angela Sheehan

    Sincere condolences to the extended Conway and Duffy families.
    Jim was one of life’s gentlemen and will be missed. He loved his Irish connections and was very proud of his heritage. We will miss his visits. The Conway family reunions won’t be the same without him.

  11. When I met Jim Conway, I was awed to be in the presence of a star. Then, in the multiple times we interacted, I was awed by his humility.

  12. I’m so sorry for your loss. Jim was an exceptional presence in patient safety and healthcare. His optimism lifted people, giving us all the energy and drive to improve both healthcare and ourselves. Which we will continue to do in his memory, but gosh, will we miss him.

  13. Linda Cronenwett

    What a tremendous loss to the world to hear of Jim’s passing. All of us who crossed paths with him in his professional life were enriched by his kindness, his commitments, his leadership. Thank you for sharing him with us.
    Linda Cronenwett, PhD RN

  14. Jim’s legacy, in part, is through his calling as a compassionate educator. I am grateful for the knowledge and insights that he shared, and the kindness that he modeled.

  15. Suzanne Finkelstein

    I knew Jim when we both worked at Children’s and DFCI. Over the course of long careers, we all meet many people. But a few of them are never forgotten. Jim was one of those people for me. He was a man of wisdom, kindness, and good humor. It was a privilege to know him. My condolences to all of you who loved him.

  16. Sally Andrews

    My sincere sympathies to Jim’s family. He was a good friend and colleague for many years. His ability to bring people together with humor and great wisdom was inspiring. He was a joy to work with.

  17. To the Conway Family, Jim was a great friend to St. Charles Troop 502 and to Minuteman Council as well. It was my pleasure to call him a friend and fellow Scouter. I remember fondly that Jim was the driving force behind Troop 502’s Trip to Portumna Ireland in 1985 for the Irish National Scouting Jamboree. It was an event that all the Scouts and Scouters who went will never forget!!! I shall miss him very much. I will always remember Jim and the Conway Family in my prayers!

    Joe Murphy – Naperville, IL

  18. Lorraine Butler

    I don’t know you I’m so sorry to hear about your husband passing he is now resting in peace may god be with you and your family you are all in my prays always remember the good times you had with him

  19. James Mountford

    I met Jim as a fellow at the IHI. What he had to say and teach was so new and bold–and important to all six of us. Jim went out of his way to make time for us and to help us develop our understanding of patient safety in our own ways, using his insight and stories. He has stayed with us all. Whenever I think of Jim, I smile.

  20. Barbara Balik

    My hope is that good memories lift you as you feel his loss – and I’m sure, knowing Jim, there are more than a few good stories! A great gift for me was the chance to work with Jim on many projects that made this world better for so many. His legacy of caring & impact is long & deep.

  21. I’m so sorry for your loss. Jim was an amazing leader and advocate for safe care. I am honored to have known him and witness the impact he made in health care. Thank you for sharing him with us. May the work continue in his name.

  22. He was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy to you all. I’m honored that I knew him.

  23. Healthcare lost a great leader. Jim’s work around patient safety and advocacy changed Healthcare delivery forever…Saving many lives thru futuristic, innovative interventions to reduce adverse events.

    I am Privileged to have worked for Jim. He was a great leader, educator, patient advocate and friend.

    My thoughts and prayers to the Conway family.

    Our World is a better place because of Jim. I will miss him.

  24. Jim was a beacon of compassion for us all. Healthcare and the lives of all he touched are forever changed because of his beliefs, passion and leadership. He was a great human and I am so sorry for your loss.

  25. Paul J Hennessy

    Condolences to Jim’s family and friends. He is memorable as one of the most impressive leaders I was privileged to know at DFCI. He led with vision, style , distinctive candor, wit and a sincere interest in everyone he met.

  26. Maureen Bisognano

    Sending love to you and the family. Jim made this world a better place in so many ways.

  27. Jim’s early advocacy for patient safety and safer systems started a movement that inspired so many of us to improve our care, our health systems, and most importantly to put our patients first. His legacy will live on forever.

  28. Brigitta Mueller

    Jim was such a guiding light teaching us to put the patients and their families first, but also to support staff when a safety event occurred during the care they provided. We will miss him, but his legacy continues!

    Brigitta U. Mueller, MD, MHCM

  29. Richard Corder

    Rest easy knowing that you made a difference, found joy and brought joy to those around you. You are missed and will never be forgotten,

  30. Jim was a source of great wisdom, warmth, wit, and support during his tenure at Dana-Farber. Nobody was more concerned about the welfare of our patients, families, and staff, or was more cool under pressure. He always had the answer, and usually a joke to go with it. A true gentle giant whom I was proud to call a colleague and friend. All my condolences to his family and loved ones.

  31. Douglas Rodman

    It was a true honor and pleasure to sit on The Ronald McDonald House with Jim for many years.

  32. Douglas Rodman

    It was a pleasure and honor to serve on The Ronald McDonald House Board. Great Individual with an Infectious smile

  33. Jim touched so many lives directly and indirectly. I, personally, learned so much from him. We have lost a great patient advocate and will our best to honor his legacy by carrying on as he would want.

  34. Laura Botwinick

    Sending love and condolences. Jim gave so much to the world, to his family, and to his many friends. He was such a wonderful person. A great leader, teacher, and mentor. He will be so missed by so many. Keeping you all in my thoughts.

  35. Eileen Conway-Martin

    Heaven has gained a remarkable person… husband, father, leader and for me “big brother”. There will never be another like you Jim. “When I counted my blessings, I always counted you twice.” Thank you for everything. love Eileen

  36. Beverly Loudin

    My deepest condolences to Jim’s family. Jim was such a force in the world of patient safety and I learned so much from him over the years! His wisdom, humor and grace will be remembered by all who knew him.
    Beverly Loudin, MD, MPH

  37. Nicola Truppin

    My sincere condolences for your loss. I knew Jim over the years as I worked on patient safety issues as a volunteer Patient Advisor for the BIDMC and the Betsy Lehman Center. He was always willing to listen and give sage advice. I learned a great deal from him. He will be greatly missed.

  38. Oliver & Mary mannion Ireland

    Condolences to the Conway and Duffy family on the death of Jim,may his gentle soul rest in peace

  39. So sorry to hear of Jim’s passing, he was a wonderful man who brought much joy on visits to the Emerald Isle. Thinking of you all

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