John Joseph O’Donnell
CORNWALL — John Joseph O’Donnell of Mesa, Arizona, passed away May 1, 2022, with his devoted wife Nancy and daughter by his side after a long and brave battle with cancer.
John was born March 26, 1939, and lived in North Cornwall for most of his life. His parents, who predeceased him, were Thomas Joseph O’Donnell of North Cornwall, and Agnes Elizabeth (Akerberg) O’Donnell originally of Jersey City, N.J. John was the only child of a dairy farming family and learned to work hard and be responsible at a young age, a quality that defined him and that he taught all his children.
John graduated from Housatonic Valley Regional High School in 1957.
Throughout his life he enjoyed horseshoes and bowling. After a hard day’s work, he spent summer evenings zipping lightning-fast pitches past batters on the softball field and wowing with his left-handed horseshoe delivery.
John was a wood worker. He chopped firewood (lots of it), built his own house and made furniture and lamps from the trees of Cornwall. Once he even built a wooden bridge for cars to pass over a stream.
When faced with a challenge, he figured it out. In later years, John spent more time traveling, gardening, and reading Louis L’Amour novels.
John was an active member of the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department for so many years that he achieved “lifetime” status. He took great pride in his role of maintaining Cornwall’s cemeteries for over 50 years.
John is survived by his loving wife Nancy with whom he was married for nearly 30 years. Together they found new friends and better winter weather in Arizona, took long road trips to see family and the countryside, and traveled to exotic locations on cruises.
In addition to Nancy, John is survived by his four children – Deborah Miller of Sheffield, William O’Donnell of North Cornwall, Kellie Cutler of Truckee, California, and Keryn “Beth” O’Donnell of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
In addition, John is survived by three beloved step-children – Shelley Lenox of Delta, Colorado, John Palaski of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and Margaret Brazeal of Rock Springs, Wyoming. Together, John and Nancy have 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
John approached his health issues with resolve and his signature dry sense of humor. He always enjoyed making the fabulous staff at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, smile. His family are forever grateful for their excellent care.
Special thanks to Terri with East Valley Hospice in Mesa, Arizona, for her exceptional care of John in his remaining days.
A graveside service will be held in the North Cornwall Cemetery at a later date.
Please send donations in John’s name to: Mayo Clinic - Cancer Research Department of Development, 200 First St., SW, Rochester, MN 55905.