2006-10-12 / Obituaries

Thomas G. O'Connell, 89

Thomas G. "Jerry" O'Connell, 89, a longtime resident of Jamestown and Lake Worth, Fla., died Friday, Oct. 6, 2006 at Heritage Hills Nursing Home in Smithfield after a year-long illness. He was the husband of Clara B. "Claire" O'Connell for 61 years.

Mr. O'Connell was born in Sheffield, Mass., the son of William D. O'Connell and Gertrude Sides O'Connell and was one of eight children.

He was a standout athlete at Sheffield High School, playing basketball and baseball. He also participated in regional baseball teams selected to play against touring professionals.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was selected for advanced flight training as an aviation cadet. He completed initial training at Syracuse University, finished single- engine aircraft qualification, and was training in multi-engine aircraft at the war's end

The O'Connells moved to Jamestown in 1954 with their four children after Mr. O'Connell accepted a position with the Navy as a construction inspector at the Newport Naval Base. Mr. O'Connell was active in youth activities and coached Jamestown Youth basketball. He built one of the first Rooster class sailboats in the area. While in Jamestown, the O'Connells lived on High Street, Standish Road, and Bayview Drive, where he personally built the family's longtime residence. He was a communicant of St. Mark Church and a member of the Jamestown Rotary Club.

The O'Connells moved to Lake Worth, Fla., in 1979, but spent the next 25 summers in Jamestown, where he renovated a summer cottage on Bayberry Road. Mr. O'Connell was an avid golfer in his later years and participated in men's leagues in Jamestown and Lake Worth. In 2005, the O'Connells moved from Lake Worth to Tiverton, where they lived in Sakonnet Bay Manor.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his children, Thomas W. O'Connell of Alexandria, Va., a retired U.S. Army officer and current assistant secretary of defense for special operations; Timothy J. O'Connell of Jamestown, a retired police department employee; and two daughters, Sally Pezanko of Southport, Conn., and Laurie A. Fischer of North Providence, both schoolteachers. Mr. O'Connell also leaves 10 grandchildren and a great granddaughter.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated tomorrow, Oct. 13, at 10 a.m. in St. Mark Church in Jamestown. Burial, with military honors, will be in St. Mark Cemetery. Visiting hours are tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Fagan-Quinn Funeral Home, 825 Boston Neck Rd., North Kingstown. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to the Peter C. Clarke Memorial Golf Fund or a James G. Pemantell Marathon cause will be appreciated.

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