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William J. "Okie" O'Connell, age 67, passed away on Friday, August 18, 2023, at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Needham, Massachusetts. Born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 4, 1955, he was the son of the late Daniel J. and Rita M. (McManus) O'Connell. Okie was raised in Norwood, Massachusetts, where he attended Norwood Public Schools. As a young boy, he began his career in the restaurant business, working as a busboy at the Colonial House Restaurant on Savin Avenue in Norwood. He went on to graduate from Norwood High School with the Class of 1974. Following his graduation, Okie traveled across the country with his best friends, working odd jobs to fuel their eight-month adventure. Upon his return home to Norwood, Okie started learning the masonry trade and went on to join the ranks of the Laborers' International Union, Local 138 in Norwood, working at the Empire Masonry Corporation in Walpole.
Okie married his wife, Diane Marie Powers, making their first home in Norwood, before settling in Seekonk to raise their family. As a young father, Okie loved taking his three children on camping trips at Point Sebago in Maine and all along the Saco River. Back at home, he was the first to volunteer for any coaching position, supporting his children’s baseball and softball teams. While he enjoyed coaching, Okie preferred being in the middle of the action, teaching his family how to play various sports and later competing with them.
Throughout his life, Okie was a hard worker and in the early 1990’s he began his career as a delivery driver, working for various companies in the area. When he wasn’t driving, Okie kept his masonry skills sharp, taking on various side projects through the years. In 2006, Okie took a job with the City of Attleboro Department of Public Works, working with the Highway Department, and was often called upon for his masonry work. Okie went on to spend a short time living in Attleboro, before returning to his hometown of Norwood in 2012. After returning to Norwood, he picked up his career in the restaurant business, cooking at Murph's Place, the Old Colonial Cafe, and the Colonial House on Savin Ave, where he worked as a young boy.
Okie was a long-time member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), first at the Attleboro Lodge (1014) and later at the Norwood Lodge (1124). He enjoyed the friendship and comradery with his fellow members, whether watching his favorite Boston teams, taking fishing trips to Lake Winnipesaukee, joining the bowling league, or hanging out at the club playing horseshoes. Okie showed up to many of the Elk’s events, ready to help out in any way he could to ensure the day went smoothly. After transferring to the Norwood Lodge, Okie regularly cooked for the members and occasionally filled in as a bartender.
Most of all, Okie loved being surrounded by his family. Okie and his children took advantage of the warm New England summers together, spending days on the beaches of Narragansett, Rhode Island and evenings by his backyard pool. He looked forward to golf outings with his sons, Greg and Kevin, and was thrilled to welcome his son-in-law, James, to join them to complete a foursome. Okie was delighted to welcome his grandchildren, playing alongside them, just as he did with his own children, and showing them how to have fun at the beach. More recently, Okie enjoyed traveling to Austin, Texas to visit his daughter, Cory, and her family, creating beautiful memories along the way.
Loving father of Gregory D. O'Connell of Newton, Kevin W. O'Connell of Newton, and Cory A. Chudleigh and her husband, James, of Austin, Texas.
Cherished grandfather of Abigail O'Connell, Ava O'Connell, Adriana O'Connell, Painter Chudleigh, and Charli Chudleigh.
Former husband of the late Diane Marie (Powers) O'Connell.
Brother of David W. O'Connell and his wife, Beverly, of Mashpee, Kathleen A. Dorion (his twin sister) and her husband, Daniel, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Rita O'C. Siegel and her husband, Perry, of Norwood, and the late Daniel L. O'Connell and his surviving wife, Janet, of East Bridgewater.
Also survived by many loving nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend Okie's Life Celebration on Friday, September 1, 2023, from 4 to 7 PM in the James H. Delaney & Son Funeral Home, 48 Common Street, Walpole.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in Saint Catherine of Siena Church, 549 Washington Street, Norwood on Saturday, September 2, 2023, at 10:00 AM. Interment will follow in Highland Cemetery in Norwood.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Dana Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284 or at www.dana-farber.org/gift