OBITUARY

Noel Kevin O'Connell

December 19, 1938March 28, 2019
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Noel was born in Berkeley, California on December 19, 1938, to Grace and Claude O'Connell. He had 3 older sisters, Norma, JoAnne and Sylvia, and was a mischievous and inquisitive little boy. Noel had three children Kevin (Pam), Brent and Erin Bugna (Rick) with is first wife, Gayle Burns. When Noel married Karen York he gained a bonus daughter, Terri Marlett (Don). His family meant everything to Noel and included five grandchildren, Brandon Bugna, Kayla Marlett, Sean O'Connell, Zachary Marlett and Eric Bugna. He also had two great grandsons, Andre and William, who filled his heart with love. Noel is also Survived by an army of wonderful nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews.

Noel had a passion for ice hockey which began at Berkeley Iceland as a kid where he made lifelong friends. He skated for the WHL San Francisco Seals, was an NHL off ice official for the Oakland Seals and the San Jose Sharks, officiated for the Pacific Hockey League San Francisco Shamrocks and Junior Hockey, and enjoyed being a referee and linesman for Charles Schultz' World Senior Olympics for many, many years. For many years Noel was an off ice official for the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs and finals. He always laughed when he told the story of singing the National Anthem and Oh Canada at a game...a happy memory. He was very proud of his hockey career, but even more proud of the relationships he made on and off the ice with many wonderful people.

Noel had a 35 year career with Del Monte Corporation which began in the Mail Room at the age of 17. He worked in many locations over the course of his career including Plant Superintendent at the Alameda Distribution Center and ending at their headquarters in San Francisco. After retirement, Del Monte hired Noel as a private consultant and he worked in Atlanta for a time. Noel couldn't comfortably relax and "smell the roses" and in retirement found a place in the golf industry at Nevada Bob's, Orlimar and Gold Mart. His work ethic was second to none.

His dear friend, Kim Farley, first introduced Noel to a place called Happy Camp and so many of his favorite times were spent fishing there with his special friends and in later years all of their children. Having his sons, Kevin and Brent and his grandson Sean with him gave him endless joy and a lot of fish tales. Steelhead fishing in the Klamath River in October, sharing camaraderie, laughter, great food, Glenlivet and a few beers were parts of his life that he treasured. Aside from these trips Noel enjoyed many camping and fishing trips with family and friends to the mouth of the Klamath, Lake Shasta, Lake Tahoe and backpacking in the Sierras.

The thing that Noel was the most proud of was his family. He knew he had a special family that shared so much love for each other and for him. From holiday dinners and Sunday Family dinners to family vacations, movies in the park, outings on the Delta and grandkid's events, he was always happy when surrounded by his family. He was a loving and thoughtful husband to Karen, babysitter of grandkids, a builder of shelves and fences, a fishing partner, a sweet and generous father of daughters to Erin and Terri, a surprise maker, a thoughtful gift giver, formidable fish chef, an open arm father in law, ultimate stocking stuffer and roaster of turkeys, thorough dishwasher, a hockey buddy, best friend to some and a strong pair of shoulders to all. He lovingly gave his grandson, Brandon the lifelong nickname of Bubba and to his grandson Eric the nickname Brie Boy and love of laughter. He passed on his love of hockey to his grandson Zack and he loved the beautiful meals prepared for him by Kayla. He was so happy to see Sean achieve his dream of becoming an attorney. He often spoke of how proud he was of the adults his 5 grandkids had become.

Not one to sit still, Noel enjoyed golf and was President of the Golden Bay Golf Club and was a member of the Merry Monks, a men's group. He was also President of the San Francisco chapter of St. Jude's Children's Hospital and thoroughly enjoyed organizing golf tournaments and fund raisers for the hospital. During his time as President, the national convention was held which was a wonderful, week-long even at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Noel enjoyed spending time with the Del Monte retirement group and luncheons with friends from Berkeley High School.

Noel and Karen had many wonderful adventures traveling to Canada, much of the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, the Bahamas, Morocco, Alaska and many trips to Hawaii which was a special place to them. The highlight of these trips was the shared laughter, ease of enjoying each day as it came and meeting new friends. Noel especially loved his time spent in Ireland and Sorrento, Italy. Both of these places brought him an abundance of happiness and found a special place in his heart. Some of these trips were marked by injuries which became a joke to Karen and Noel, but never slowed them down. His Doctor jokingly asked him when they were going to stop traveling and his response was, "when we get it right."

After moving to Discovery Bay from Piedmont, CA, Noel enjoyed discovering the beauty of the surrounding area, the wildlife and peace and quiet. He would stop the car to pick wild sunflowers in the summer and frequently surprise Karen with bouquets for their home just because he loved making her happy. He loved running errands and taking drives along the delta looking for the adventure right around the corner.

Noel will be remembered by his family for his strength and ability to make things run smoothly in a calm and patient way. He would quietly step in when life's big events happened and make things better in a way that made his family feel like everything was going to be alright no matter what the situation was. His take charge attitude, organization and efficiency made life easier for those he loved. He had recently signed up to volunteer at John Muir Hospital and rediscovered his love for building things. We will miss his teasing, contagious laughter, hugs, warm smile and corny sense of humor. Lets hope his corn that he recently planted grows in his garden this year!

Donations in honor of Noel can be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Services

  • Memorial Mass Tuesday, April 23, 2019
  • Celebration of Life Tuesday, April 23, 2019
REMEMBERING

Noel Kevin O'Connell

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John E. 'Gene' & Jeanne O'Connell

April 19, 2019

Our condolences are extended to Noel's family and our many cousins of the Claude and Grace O'Connell family. My father, John L. O'Connell was Claude's closest brother, both in time and personal relationship. Sons 4 and 5 of the John and Mary O'Connell family (eventually 10 survivors of 11 births) of Raymond, IA. Born in the closing years of the 19th century they graduated together from St. Mary's High School, Waterloo, IA in 1915. Our families saw much of each other until 1936 when the family of then 3 girls moved to California. Family relationship persisted thru the years and while Noel and I were O'Connell first cousins with limited direct connections, I am most grateful that we did have a few minutes to visit at his sister Norma's 90th birthday celebration in 2018. Our prayers are being offered for the repose of his soul and the many intentions of Karen and their children's families.

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