Katherine M. O’Connell (Kate) passed away on April 18, 2020 from complications of COVID-19. Kate was born on May 24, 1940 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City the daughter of James Timothy and Adele Quilgan O’Connell. She is survived by her siblings: Colonel (Retired) James T. O’Connell Jr. and Pauline O’Connell of Williamsburg VA; Anne O’Connell Latona and Donald Latona of Jackson NJ; Dorothy O’Connell Cherry of Sherman CT; and Mary O’Connell and Peter Grua of Boston MA; her ten beloved nieces and nephews: James B. O’Connell, Malia and Neal Flatt, Sara and Luke Somerville, Caren Latona, Donald “Duke” and Meena Latona, Christopher and Stephanie Latona, Lisa Latona, Jennifer Morton, Jonathan and Tiziana Morton, and Timothy Morton; and, her thirteen beloved great-nieces and nephews: Corey Flatt, Ian Flatt, Jesse Flatt, Jordan Somerville, Eric Somerville, Andrew Somerville, Ashley Latona, Meaghan Latona, Connor Latona, Cody Booth, Genevieve Morton, Gregory Morton and Clayton Morton.
Kate grew up with her family in Washington DC and Upper Montclair NJ. She graduated high school from Lacordaire Academy in Upper Montclair. A great athlete, she excelled in basketball and was the captain of her team during her senior year. Kate graduated from St. Vincent’s Hospital Nursing School in Dublin, Ireland where she developed a lifelong love of the Irish culture. She also received a BS in Nursing from New Jersey City University and Masters’ Degrees in Nursing and Hospital Administration from Columbia University.
She dedicated her life to caring for America’s veterans in the Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System. After serving initially as a cardiac nurse, her career after graduate school took her, as an Administrator, to the VA Hospitals in Denver CO, Topeka KS, Buffalo NY and subsequently back to New York City as the Deputy Director of the VA Hospital in Manhattan. This assignment was truly a capstone event in her life. She loved being back in New York and close to her family and many friends. On 9/11, the Manhattan VA Hospital was on the front line for both triage and treatment for the many casualties resulting from the attack on the World Trade Center. She played a pivotal role, working tirelessly in her critical leadership position during this tragic crisis. It was Kate at her best.
Kate loved traveling. Following high school, she had a unique opportunity to travel with her parents to Europe, Ireland and Egypt. Kate also loved the several opportunities she had to join with her sisters on memorable cruises throughout Europe, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. She always looked forward to being able to return to Ireland and visit lifelong friends from nursing school in Dublin. Her greatest love in her retirement years was raising her two English Springer Spaniels, Molly and Adele both of whom were accomplished show dogs and American Kennel Club (AKC) Champions. Over the last 10 years, she helped her sister, Dotti, with the breeding and showing of hundreds of English Springer Spaniels. Together, they bred a great line of Champion Springers. Kate was well known and loved on the AKC dog show circuit in the Northeast.
Kate will be remembered for her keen intellect, a loving heart, an infectious smile and a laugh that brightened every conversation. She will also be remembered for her devotion and generosity to her family and her service to her country. Her nieces and nephews will not forget her strict disciplinarian side —often referring to her lovingly as “The General”. Many of them had the good fortune to spend lazy summer days with her and their Grandmother, Adele O’Connell, at the family home in Little Silver, NJ.
Memorial services are deferred given the social distancing requirements of the Coronavirus pandemic. Donations in memory of Kate can be made to Take the Lead, Puppies Behind Bars, St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or a charity of your choice.
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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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Puppies Behind Bars
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Take the Lead
215 Washington Street, Watertown NY 13601