Deacon Thomas P. O'Connell
December 23, 1935 – January 4, 2020
Deacon Thomas P. O’Connell, 84, died on January 4, 2020 at Bassett Hospital, in Cooperstown.
He was born on December 23, 1935 in Astoria, NY, the son of Michael and Lillian (West) O’Connell.
After graduating from St. John’s University 1960, and Siena College (Masters) 1963, he taught at Christian Brothers Academy (1960-1963), Wappingers Central School (1963-1970), and SUNY Delhi (1970-1995). At Delhi he taught English and Philosophy and in 1977 received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. From 1996-2000 he taught Theology and was the department chair at Bishop McGuinness High School in Winston-Salem, N.C. He also served on the Board of Education for the Delaware Academy Central School District.
In 1976 he was ordained a Catholic deacon in the Albany diocese. He served as deacon at St. Peter’s Church (Delhi), St. Mary’s (Oneonta & Cooperstown), and St. Leo’s (Winston-Salem). He also preached or lectured at various other area churches.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Katherine (Schuller) O’Connell; their four children, Eileen (Paul) Keating of Ithaca, Gregory (Vicky) O’Connell of Delhi, Kristen (Tom) Ford of Ithaca , and John (Michelle) O’Connell of Wallingford, CT; eleven grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; a brother Michael; a sister-in-law, Eileen Walker; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his sister Kathleen; and his brother Patrick.
Born and raised in "The Big Apple", he nevertheless truly enjoyed his "Thoreau Experience" living close to nature in his beloved hills of Delaware County.
Friends are invited to greet the family on Friday, January 10, 2020 at the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, 14 Grand Street, Oneonta, from 5-7 pm.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at 10 am at St. Mary’s Church, 39 Walnut Street, Oneonta, with Rev. David Mickiewicz officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Delaware County Senior Meals Program, 97 Main St. Suite 2, Delhi, NY 13753.
To offer condolences to the family, please visit: www.grummonsfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.
- Calling Hours Friday, January 10, 2020
- Funeral Mass Saturday, January 11, 2020
Deacon Thomas P. O'Connell
January 17, 2020
I was sixteen years old when Mr O’Connell was my English teacher in Wappingers Falls, New York. I see now that he was 31 years old that year. I didn’t have an appreciation for good writing or novels or poetry but, during the school year, he gently brought me closer. One week, we looked at and talked about Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’. I had never realized that the music on the radio could be appreciated as poetry. Later in the year, we read Plato and Socrates. For the first time, I felt excited to be thinking about the ideas of an ancient Greek. We had to do a term paper and I chose the topic of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I still have the paper with his comments added. He spent a long time on his comments. He said he enjoyed the paper and learned from it. I still remember how I felt proud of my work because of his comments. I still remember the look in his eyes when he shared an idea with his class about a poem. I understood that you could love writing and love sharing that love. I took that understanding with me through my life. I think he was the most important teacher I had through my school years. He never knew it, though. I’m sure I didn’t share my thoughts with him. I probably didn’t say much in class. But I was listening. He was a good teacher and I thank him for that.
Cathy and Gary Brackett
January 11, 2020
Our sincere condolences on the loss of such a wonderful man. Deacon O'Connell married us 33 years ago. I remember his counsel before our wedding, his suggestions of what songs should be played, and his sincere and heart-felt message to family and friends on our wedding day. "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Cathy and Gary Brackett
Teresa Ruggiero Sears
January 10, 2020
My deepest sympathy at the loss of your father. He was a wonderful man! You are in my thoughts and prayers.
January 9, 2020
Sending our condolences to the O'Connell family in this time, and lifting you up in prayer.
January 8, 2020
Tom and I were colleagues at SUNY Delhi. What I remember most of him is that he always had something positive to share with me, especially when I was going through some rough times. I might have approached him with tears in my eyes, but always walked away with a smile on my face. I'm ever so grateful for his gifts in that sense. Regards to the family. Rest in peace Tom.
January 7, 2020
When I was still at Delhi (@ 1992) I had driven to Cooperstown to listen to Mr. O'Connell speak at the church one day. After the service people were milling about talking out front and he was "yelling" at me for not wearing a coat as it was a cool Fall day and a little elderly woman came up to us and asked him "Is this your son?" He threw his hands up in exasperation and responded with "He might as well be!" It was an offhanded comment and a brief moment in a long friendship, but it remains my favorite moment he and I shared. I will love and miss him until I see him again.