Jack O’Connell, Business Leader, Philanthropist, Dead At 83

Big man with a big heart. That was Jack O’Connell. He was a key presence Downtown for many years, active in the business community, property management and even an eponymous pub located in what is now Joseph’s Steakhouse.

He was always quick to help needy organizations and provide salient advice. He passed away last week. He was 83.

His obituary:

John “Jack” Frederick O’Connell, Sr. passed away peacefully on December 14, 2023, after a brief illness. He was born in Holyoke, MA, on July 14, 1941 to Delia “Dell” and George E. O’Connell. He was a man that strongly believed in family values, faith, and public service.

Jack, “Spider”, went to Holyoke Catholic High School, where he played and was captain on both the football and basketball teams. He was a proud graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Sociology. Two days after graduation, Jack reunited with childhood friend (and 4th grade girlfriend), Mary Anne McLean. He proposed on their third date, and on December 28th they would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

In the early years of their marriage, they followed Jack’s career and lived in numerous states. They eventually settled down in Norwalk, CT, where they raised their 4 children and opened their door to anyone in need, family or otherwise.

Jack’s professional accomplishments include Community Redevelopment, AFL-CIO, VISTA, HUD, Real Estate Developer, as well as being an Arbitrator for the State of CT and a Justice of the Peace.

Volunteering was also an important aspect in his life, including mentoring with Big Brothers, being a member of Boards of Education in both Bridgeport and Milford, participating in Emmaus retreats, and serving as a Eucharistic Minister, most recently at St. Gabriel’s Church in Milford.

Jack enjoyed spending summers with his family at their home in Goose Rocks Beach in Maine, which was “Worth the Ride”. He could often be found behind the helm of his sailboat, “Take Time”, and reveled in sailing trips taken with good friends and family, especially son, George. He loved traveling with Mary Anne, and favorite trips were to Isla Mujeras, Mexico, where often Fr. Jim Bowler, sister, Mary Lou, or one of their children would join them, and the family trip to Ireland. Later in life, Jack and Mary Anne traveled south in their RV, finally enjoying winters at their home in Bradenton, FL.

In more recent years, Jack and Mary Anne lived in Laurel Beach, Milford, on the “family compound”, making memories with their family, especially their four grandchildren. Jack faithfully watched Notre Dame football games, and enjoyed listening to classical music, riding his bike on the beach road, reading, daily Mass at St. Gabriel’s, and meeting up with his “breakfast buddies”.

In addition to his parents, Jack was predeceased by his wife, Mary Anne, son Matthew, sister Mary Lou, brother George and wife Joan, and sister-in-law Margaret “Peggy” McLean. Survivors include his son, John F. O’Connell, Jr. and wife Jennifer of Milford, daughter Margaret J. O’Connell and wife Katherine of Brunswick, ME, son George E. O’Connell and wife Lori of Stratford, Maria O’Connell and partner Brian of Clinton, NJ, grandchildren Alice Lavicoli and husband Nicolino, Lyddy O’Connell and partner Clinton, Katie John O’Connell, John (Jack) O’Connell III, and great-grandchildren Giovanni and Ollie Iavicoli. Special to his heart, cousin Fr. James Bowler, nephew George William O’Connell, wife Karen, and great-nieces Julia and Audrey.

Visitation will be Thursday, December 21, 2023 from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the GREGORY F. DOYLE FUNERAL HOME, Milford. Mass will be celebrated Friday, December 22, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. in St. Gabriel Church, Milford. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to The Towers, Tower Lane, New Haven, CT, where Jack resided, https://towerlane.org/support/tribute-giving/ .


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