William Patrick O'Connell
December 9, 1935 – November 29, 2018
On November 29, 2018, William Patrick O’Connell, Jr. died in San Jose, California. He was born to William Patrick, Sr. and Leonore Elizabeth (Garrod) O’Connell in Seattle, Washington, on December 9, 1935.
After graduating from Seattle Prep in 1953, William attended Seattle University where he was a member of the ROTC honorary society and Alpha Omega service fraternity. He joined the Jesuits in 1956 in Sheridan, Oregon, before moving to Mt. St. Michael’s in Spokane, Washington. He earned an AB in English and a PhL in Philosophy at Gonzaga University, followed by four years of theology studies at Alma College in California.
William earned a Masters of Sacred Theology and an MA in counseling at Santa Clara University in California. He received his license in marriage, child, and family counseling in 1986 and served as a counselor until 2001.
William’s ﬁrst job was that of paperboy for The Seattle Times. Later he had summer jobs at Universal Steel Works and various canneries in Alaska, including working on ﬁsh traps for his godfather, Denis Ryan, outside Ketchikan, Alaska. These were his coming- of-age months as he worked alongside grown men in difﬁcult conditions. While studying at Seattle University, William worked in circulation at Catholic Northwest Progress. As a Jesuits Seminarian, William taught at Gonzaga Prep and supervised the school paper.
In 1969, William left the Jesuits and worked as director of religious education for St. Nicholas Parish in Los Altos. Subsequently, William taught English and business, ﬁrst at Los Altos High and later at Mountain View High. He retired in 1991.
William’s retirement was spent active in church ministries, environmental projects, social justice, and community organizing for emergency preparedness. He made several trips to Ft. Benning, Georgia, to protest the School of the Americas.
William was instrumental in bringing two non-proﬁt organizations to Santa Clara County. The ﬁrst, Birthright, provides support for pregnant women; the second, South Bay Autism Services, brought the TEACCH model (which enables teachers and parents to work effectively with children with autism and other communication disorders) from the University of North Carolina to the Bay Area.
While William was teaching a course for parents of children to receive ﬁrst communion at St. Nicholas, he met Carol (Carrillo) Fuller, who was to become his ﬁrst wife. Carol had three children from a previous marriage: Deidre, Peter and Ian. William and Carol had two children of their own: Kerry Elizabeth and Kelsey Megan. William and Carol divorced in 1981.
In 1990, at a Halloween Dance in Palo Alto, William (wearing a dragon mask) met Donna Lee (Andersen) Vennard (dressed as Mother Goose). They were married in 1992. Previously married, Donna had a daughter Suzanne and a granddaughter Justine who lived with William and Donna for several years.
During the last year of his life William had frequent visitors. They helped him remember the joys of coaching AYSO soccer, the excitement of leading high school students on backpacking trips, the growth that comes from world travel, along with the delight of raising children and the mysteries of religious belief.
Preceding William in death were his brother James O’Connell and his stepson Peter Fuller.
He is survived by his wife Donna; siblings Mary Joan, Maureen and John O'Connell; daughters Kerry and Kelsey; stepchildren Deidre and Ian Fuller and Suzy (Vennard) Halberstadt; his wonderful grandchildren Justine (Bullwinkle Vennard) and husband Dave Surrey, Hannah and Sterling Halberstadt; great, granddaughter, Audrey Surrey; nephews John, Jr. and Will O’Connell; and grandnephew Leo O’Connell.
A Catholic Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Martin of Tours Church, 200 O’Connor Drive, San Jose, on December 14th at 1:00 p.m. Interment will follow at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Birthright of San Jose.
- Funeral Mass Friday, December 14, 2018
- Committal Friday, December 14, 2018
William Patrick O'Connell
December 23, 2018
William was such a great inspiration. But one thing I remember is the very pleasant surprise I had while recovering from a quadruple bypass surgery, at Kaiser Santa Clara, when who walks in to sit with me and talk to me for a while, William! I didn't expect it. But it was very consoling and supportive. That's William. I miss you, but trust that you are now an advocate "up" there for all of us, especially those in most need. - Stan