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Helen M. O'Connell

Helen M. O'Connell

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Helen M. O'Connell

July 24, 2020

NEW CASTLE, DE — With profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen M. O'Connell, 88, of New Castle DE and Clayton NY, from natural causes. Helen was cherished for her selfless devotion to family and friends. She was a wonderful role model, teacher, innovator, guide, and mentor to all who knew and worked with her. She was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Church, Fayetteville NY and St. Mary's Catholic Church, Clayton NY.

Born in Auburn NY, the eldest of five children to Michael F. Fogarty and Cecilia O'Toole Fogarty, Helen attended Holy Family School. In those days, gifted students were often given the opportunity to advance more quickly than classmates and Helen graduated magna cum laude at age 16.

Helen received her bachelor's degree from Mercyhurst University, Erie PA. She earned her master's degree and completed the course work for the doctorate in Language Arts at Syracuse University. She began her career in 1953 at Jamesville-Dewitt Senior High School where she taught Social Studies, English, and French. She retired from the same school district after completing 40 years of teaching. Helen was proud to be a part of the development team that made the concept of Jamesville-Dewitt Middle School a reality. At the Middle School, she taught Language Arts and Reading. Upon her retirement, she continued to return to the Middle School almost daily as a substitute teacher for another five years. Truly born to teach, Helen loved working with young people of all ages and abilities.

Among her professional activities, Helen served on the Middle Atlantic States Evaluation Team and was recognized for her service. She often was asked to grade English essays for the New York State Regents system. A member of the first faculty at the opening of J-D Middle School, Helen was a key component of the team that wrote curriculum for the new teaching model. She served as the master teacher for generations of student teachers from Le Moyne College and Syracuse University.

Helen's favorite leisure activities included traveling internationally. A yearly summer tourist to Canada, she also visited many European countries, the British Isles, plus Korea and Japan. Often traveling as part of the entourage for her daughter's choral concert tours, she was always willing to carry the medicine bag, start the clapping at performances, or write the travelogue. She was an avid reader, a gourmet cook, a fine arts enthusiast and a regular theatre goer. Each summer would find her relaxing and entertaining at her summer home in the beautiful Thousand Islands NY.

Helen was preceded in death by her parents and husband, J. Daniel O'Connell, as well as her sister Maureen Mac Lemale, brothers William Fogarty, James Fogarty and Thomas Fogarty and niece Laura Mac Lemale. She is survived by her children, Kathleen O'Connell Shannon of DE, Edward D. O'Connell (Anne Marie) of PA; her beloved grandson, Daniel T. O'Connell of PA; nephew Kevin Fogarty (Angela) and their sons Matthew and William reside in NY as do cousins Mary Fogarty Casey (Robert) and David Fogarty.

A funeral mass will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 10, at Immaculate Conception Church, 400 Salt Springs St., Fayetteville NY (13066) COVID-19 protocols will be in effect. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Helen's name to the music programs of Immaculate Conception Church and/or St. Mary's (521 James Street, Clayton NY 13624).

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