Schoharie (Schoharie County):
John Francis O’Donnell, 84, of Rte 30A, Schoharie died on Tuesday morning, August 19. Following his cancer diagnosis, John enjoyed several rich years of life with family, friends, and community.
John was born in Brooklyn, New York, June 10, 1924, the oldest child of the late John and Frances (O’Connor) O’Donnell. He graduated from Bushwick High School in Brooklyn and joined the U.S. Marines in December, 1942, serving in the Pacific until the end of the war. After the war he returned to Brooklyn and attended St. John’s College and became involved in the Catholic Worker and the Back to the Land movements. John moved to Central Bridge, New York in 1950 and married Mary Jo Desmond on August 4, 1951. Together they raised eight children in their home on Rte 30A in Schoharie.
John was a carpenter, working for many years with Thomas Hochmuth Construction in Schenectady, and then for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Grounds and Buildings Department until his retirement in 1987. He was an active parishioner of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Schoharie. John was proud of his Irish heritage and he and Mary Jo were founding members of the Schoharie County Irish Heritage Society. He was a member of the Schoharie Land Trust and Save Our Schoharie.
Throughout his life John enjoyed vegetable gardening. He was an accomplished and published cartoonist who chronicled family life, including his own final illness, with his many drawings. He had a great sense of humor and often amused and entertained family and friends with his wit. John could be counted on to organize an Irish Haymaker’s jig at family and community gatherings, and was a tough competitor at wiffle ball and one-on-one hoops. In his later years he became an avid player of Upwords (a board game similar to Scrabble), challenging his children, grandchildren and other family members and guests to games during every visit. John had a serious side also: he read widely and enjoyed discussing theological, philosophical, social, and political issues with family and friends.
John is survived by his children, Morgan Desmond (Ellen) of Schenectady, James (Judy) of Cobleskill, NY, Nuala Petet (Frank) of Disputanta, VA, Brideen Finegan (Barton) of Fairfield, CT, Maeve (Sr. Philothea) of Safford, AZ, Brendan (Regina) of Interlaken, NY, Evanne of Chico, CA and Kevan (Kris) of Brattleboro, VT. John is also survived by his sister, Catherine Huffman of Ronkonkoma, NY and his brother, Martin O’Donnell of Wilbraham, MA. John was predeceased by his wife, Mary Jo, who died on March 5, 2005 and by two brothers; Walter O’Donnell , who was killed in action during WW II in 1945, and Thomas O’Donnell, who died on March 26, 2006. John has 16 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be Thursday, August 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Langan Funeral Home, 327 Main St., Schoharie. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Joseph’s Church, Main St., Schoharie on Friday, August 22, at 10:00 a.m. Burial will be in the Old Stone Fort Cemetery, Schoharie.
Memorial contributions may be made to Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., 327 West Main Street, Suite #3, Cobleskill, New York 12043 or to the Schoharie Land Trust, P.O. box 482, Cobleskill, NY 12043.
August 22, 2008, 10 AM
St. Josephs R.C. Church
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Calling hours held Thursday evening from 7-9 PM at the Langan Funeral Home, 327 Main Street, Schoharie, NY