James P. O’Connell, 91, of Brookfield, died peacefully Oct. 9, 2022 at his home.
Mr. O’Connell, who worked in commercial real estate at Prudential, Dovenmuehle and Draper & Kramer, raised his family in Riverside for 37 years before downsizing and relocating to North Riverside in 1998. He was a parishioner for 62 years at St. Mary Church in Riverside.
He grew up on Chicago’s South Side, and the Great Depression and World War II shaped his childhood. Growing up, Mr. O’Connell sold newspapers on a street corner, worked as a pinsetter at Beverly Bowl and as a bus boy at Mickelberry’s Log Cabin. He also worked at Rainbow Cone for Joseph Sapp, the store’s founder, and later at High-Low Foods.
He was a graduate of St. Margaret of Scotland, Leo High School, Morgan Park Junior College and Loyola University. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955 and it took him to England, France, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Germany, Egypt and Algeria.
Shortly after graduation from Loyola in March of 1957, Mr. O’Connell started with the Prudential Life Insurance Company. He had a brief foray as a stock broker, but he joined Dovenmuehle, a mortgage banking firm, in September of 1969 before joining Draper & Kramer in 1980. He rose to the rank of vice president of construction services in his 23 years with the company.
He married Peggy Melichar on Nov. 19, 1960, and settled in Riverside a year later. Between 1961 and 1970, they had five children. Peggy was diagnosed with cancer and died in November of 1974, shortly after their 14th wedding anniversary.
Mr. O’Connell was left to raise five children, ranging in ages from 3 to 12. He dedicated his life to doing that, putting them above all else. He was a devout Roman Catholic and never wavered from his faith. He also enjoyed watching cooking shows, researching family history and writing meticulous, detailed letters when dealing with a problem.
Mr. O’Connell also was profiled in the Chicago Today on June 10, 1973, in a story called, “Kids are on first in his Little League,” a story about his philosophy of coaching youth sports.
He started his day with a V-8, seasoned with pepper and lemon juice, and enjoyed a Manhattan prior to dinner.
Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, October 20th, at the Ivins-Moravecek Funeral Home, 80 East Burlington Avenue, Riverside. Family and friends will gather for prayers at 9 a.m. Friday, October 21st, before heading to St. Mary’s Church, 126 Herrick Road, Riverside, for a 10 a.m. Mass. Interment All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines.
Survivors include his five children, Jim (Mary Ann) O’Connell, Ellen (Mike) Farrow, Susan (Bob Chicoine) O’Connell, Margaret (Doug) Glenzinski and Tom (Laura) O’Connell; his sister, Mary Kathryn “Mickey” O’Connell; and grandchildren, Jack, Allison, Maggie, Nicole and Shannon Farrow; Kathryn Chicoine; Abeline, Thomas and Cleo Glenzinski; and Finn and Grace O’Connell. He is predeceased by his wife, Peggy; a brother, Dan; and parents, Abeline and James Sr.
Mr. O’Connell’s aunt, Sr. Rose Concepta, was an Adrian Dominican nun. Memorials may be sent in memory of Sr. Rose, to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan 49221.