Memorial for Patrick J. O’Connell ’79
Patrick J. O'Connell, age 62, of Channahon, passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by family, on Sunday, March 31, after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer.
He is survived by his loving wife of 26 years, Susan (nee Tannenbaum); their children, Patrick and Molly; his siblings, Dale Jr. (Karen), Kathy (Clint) Forsyth, Ginny (Mike) Deegan, Mike (Tina) and Bill (Denise); his aunt, Pat Dickinson; his mother-in-law, Sharon Tannenbaum; his sisters-in-law, Jodi (John) Ancel, Angie (late Larry) McKay and Staci (Greg) Geistler; his brother-in-law, Doug (Yocelin) Tannenbaum; numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews and cousins; and his feline companions, Shake and Elvis.
Preceded in death by his parents, Dale Sr. and Estelle (nee Jones) O'Connell; his father-in-law, Gerald Tannenbaum; and his cat, Spike.
Pat was a graduate of Joliet East High School, class of '75, and Millikin University, class of '79, where he was a proud brother of the TKE fraternity. He earned two master's degrees from George Williams College and Governors State University. Pat was an athlete at heart. He wrestled and ran cross country and track in high school and in college. After college, he played rugby for the Chicago Blaze for over 30 years and in his later years, the Manhattan Shamrocks. The Chicago Blaze Club House was one of his favorite places. He practically raised his kids there, and in the last two weeks could still be found there watching the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Competition. Pat was a teacher and a coach for over 40 years, but he wasn't just a teacher and a coach -- he lived it. Having a passion for his students and his athletes to succeed, Pat made a tremendous impression on the generations of young lives he touched. It is hoped that his dedication to his profession sets a precedent for those who follow. It is without doubt that during Pat's years at Joliet East, Joliet Central and Joliet Junior College, his example inspired countless other teachers, coaches and future educators to strive to do better. A humble man, Pat had many accomplishments, including helping coach Joliet Central to the 1985 IHSA State Wrestling Championship; spearheading the revival of the Joliet Junior College wrestling program in 2017; and being inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame in 2017. Pat was known for his ability to create gatherings, some may call it followings. A few examples: annual Bears tailgate parties in his backyard; annual Las Vegas trips; annual Cocoa Beach trips for over 35 years; daddy/daughter Jimmy Buffett concerts; and visits to his favorite baseball shrine - Wrigley Field. Pat was an extraordinary organizer, gift giver, pickle ball player and world traveler. To sum up a life such as Pat's in an obituary is impossible, but we can say with confidence that Patrick was a positive force who saw the good in everyone. He lived with purpose. He played hard, loved fiercely and had an unbreakable spirit. To know Pat was to see a man who genuinely loved life, and his absence will be forever felt by all who knew and loved him.
Visitation for Patrick will be Friday, April 5, 2019, from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Forsythe Gould Funeral Home, Manhattan. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, April 6, 2019, at St. Mary Nativity Catholic Church, 702 N. Broadway St., Joliet, with Father Jerome Kish officiating. There will be no procession to the church from the funeral home. Interment will be at Woodlawn Memorial Park, Joliet.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Pat's name to Joliet Area Community Hospice, 250 Water Stone Circle, Joliet, IL, 60431 or to Takedown Cancer at www.takedowncancer.org would be most appreciated.
Forsythe Gould Funeral Home, 507 S. State St., Manhattan, IL 60442, 815-478-3321, www.forsythegouldfh.com
Published in The Herald-News from Apr. 3 to Apr. 4, 2019