John K. O'Connell, a combat veteran of WWII and a career salesman, died on November 6th, 2010 at the East Orange, N.J., Veterans Medical Center of sepsis and complications of long illness. Prior to that, he had been a patient at the Lyons, N.J., Veterans Administration Nursing Home for a number of years.
He was 87 years old.
John O'Connell was born in The Bronx, New York City, and was educated in elementary and secondary schools there.
During WWII, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a radio operator in Australia and New Guinea.
After honorable discharge from the Army, he attended St. John's University, in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the G. I. Bill of Rights.
Later, he became a salesman in the paper business, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather, the last having brought a paperboard company from Ireland into the United States.
John O'Connell's mother and father and all four grandparents were born here. On his father's maternal side, the family has been here since the 18th Century, and fought the British during the Revolutionary War. As a consequence, his aunt became a member of the DAR.
While both sides of the family have fought this nation's wars from their arrival here, family legend has it that this same side of the family- a sub-branch of the Maryland quarry owners-sided with the South during the Civil War.
John O'Connell, the first in his immediate family of city New Yorkers to own a car, covered territories that ranged from New England to the Mid-Atlantic states, never traveled without a full set of golf clubs in the trunk, and played every course he could reach from a nearby public course in Van Cortland Park, The Bronx, to courses nationally acclaimed.
He is survived by his brother, Robert O' Connell, who with his wife, Frances W. O'Connell, has lived in Basking Ridge for 47 years.
According to his wishes, John O'Connell was buried at the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Arnytown, NJ. Gallaway and Crane Funeral Home of Basking Ridge, NJ arranged for the internment, which occurred on Dec. 1st 2010. And was attended by family members.
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