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Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt, Anita M. O’Connell, 95, of Kansas City, formerly of Sun City Center, FL and Rumford, ME, passed away on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Born in Solon, Maine, Anita was the daughter of the late John and Mina (Russell) Smith. She graduated from Mexico High School in 1942, and worked in the Pentagon in Washington, DC, as a typist during World War II. After returning to Maine, she became a hairstylist and managed a salon in Bangor when she and Joseph O’Connell (USAF) were introduced by mutual friends. They were married in Rumford, Maine, in the spring of 1948, and Anita was a supportive partner during the remainder of Joe’s Air Force career. Their four children were born at bases in Maine, California, Japan and New York. After retiring from the Air Force, Joe and Anita settled in Lynbrook, New York, where Anita managed a hair salon and Joe worked for US Customs at JFK airport. They retired to Sun City Center, Florida in 1985 and enjoyed their summers at the family camp on Worthley Pond near Bethel, Maine.
During their retirement years, Anita and Joe loved ballroom dancing, and were assistant instructors in their dance club. Anita was also a talented seamstress, decorator, and hostess. She is survived by, her son John and his wife Charlene of Round Rock, Texas and three daughters, Elizabeth O’Connell and her husband Walter Donnelly of St. Petersburg, Florida; Colleen O’Connell-Ill and her husband Fred Ill of Kansas City, Missouri; and Laurie O’Connell and her partner Bill Kanz of Chicago, Illios. She also has two grandchildren, Kelsey Loethen and her husband Troy, and Jordan Ill and his wife Shelby Haydon. She is survived by her brother, Alfred Smith and his wife Joyce of Mexico, Maine, and her brother-in-law Stanley (Ty) Kaubris of Rumford, Maine, and many loving nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her devoted husband Joe and her siblings, Margaret Cook, Elvira Cocca, Marie Smith, and Alfreda Kaubris. A funeral mass and memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Liz O'Connell says
Mom, you have blessed us with your guidance, wisdom, talent, good humor, and above all, your unconditional love and support. Through your example, you taught us how to be kind and selfless, tenacious and tender, assertive and humble. We are grateful for the many years you have been a loving presence in our lives, and we will joyfully share countless fond and funny memories of growing up (and growing old!) with you and Dad. As always, I love you the universe! – Liz
Michele Mayo says
Dear John, Liz, Colleen and Laurie,
My thoughts and prayers are with you all. So many wonderful memories of aunt Anita, uncle Joe and the four of you. I know uncle Joe was waiting with open arms; yes, a match made in heaven.
Love to you all.
Michele and Jay
Mark Roman says
Dear John, Liz, Colleen and Laurie –
We are all saddened by the news of your mom’s passing; please know we hold each of you in our thoughts and prayers. What a swirl of memories come to me, from times shared on Long Island, and at Sun City and Round Rock. Your mom was an extraordinary woman…warm, kind and generous…and together with your dad blessed us all with your family.
Mark, Alisa, Emily and Katie
Matt Kaubris says
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire O’Connell family at this time. Aunt Anita was such a sweetheart to all of us and she and Uncle Joe were the perfect couple. So many thoughts come to my mind at this time. One of my favorites is how I always would tease Uncle Al when he would travel down to Florida to visit with his beloved sister, he would leave Maine with just the clothes on his back. Upon returning a few weeks later he would come back with 2 suitcases full of new clothes after Anita would pamper him and take him shopping. I heard Uncle Al say so many times how he loved being the “baby” of the family as Anita and her sisters always looked out for him and took great care of him. God bless you Aunt Anita.
Matt and Pam
Betty and Ira says
Dearest Cols,John,Liz and Laurie,
When your family moved to Lynbrook I could never have known what an impact you would all have on my life. I was a happy 6th grader along with Colleen … and my mom died. I will never forget how Anita and all of you welcomed me into your home with open arms. Anita became an important mother in my life. She was always warm and kind and inclusive to a fault and your home became a second home to me. Visiting you in Maine I will never forget Ira’s description of Anita as “ the laziest woman in the state of Maine” because she never stood still. We actually snapped a photo of Anita momentarily lying on a chaise lounge! She picked up on Ira’s NY humor and always had a smile and a laugh. Anita was simply a gem of a human being and we see her spirit in all of you. Sending all our love and remembering Anita’s glimmer. xxxx Betty and Ira
Andrea Kaubris says
Dear Liz, Colleen, Laurie & John,
My heart is saddened to hear of Aunt Anita’s passing. Dad (Uncle Ty) & I were sharing stories about your mom this morning, smiling about her indomitable spirit & infectious laugh. As we were driving just yesterday we passed an old chair on the side of the road. Dad said that if your mom saw that she’d slam on the breaks & pick it up (someone could use it!!!). We both could picture your dad tying it to the roof of the van.
“NO” was not in your mom’s vocabulary- she could do anything & everything so well. And if she didn’t know how to do something, she’d certainly learn how.
She will be missed.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Rob, Cyndi & Nicole Kofkin says
Dearest Liz, Colleen, Laurie, and John,
The world lost a great one! I remember how amazing I thought Anita was during a Thanksgiving dinner at our previous home in Morton Grove. That was when I began to dearly love your mom. She was such a lively, vivacious, loving, fun, and generous spirit. She will always remain in my heart. My thoughts of her will always bring a smile to my face. Perhaps because I know you best, Liz, I see so much of Anita in you. Our deepest condolences and love to you all and the extended family. May your many loving and fun memories console you during this very difficult time.
Love, Cyndi, Rob, & Nicole
Stan Kaubris says
How sad to hear of Aunt Anita’s passing, and how happy to know she is back together again with Uncle Joe. I find it difficult to articulate my many fond memories of your Mom (and Dad- I always think of them as one!). Our trips to Florida to visit my parents always included gatherings with your parents; and we looked forward to their (and your) summer vacations at Worthley Pond so we could enjoy more time together. I still have fond memories of “living” with them in Lynbrook when I transferred there with my job (until they had the nerve to move to Sun City Center!). And how much fun was it to see the Smith girls (and Uncle Al) laughing and carrying on during their time together. Your Mom was such a loving and generous woman- she could make anyone instantly feel like a member of her family. We will miss her smile, humor, zest for life and eye for a shopping bargain! Our thoughts and prayers are with you all!
Stan & Martha
Karen Knack says
Dear Colleen and Family,
We are so very sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. We will forever remember her wonderful smile and disposition. We loved being able to spend time with her and your Dad when they visited you and they were so gracious to host us at their home in Sun City, FL. We will treasure the stories about their dances, how they met and your Mom’s love of cooking (store bought to the oven!). Take comfort knowing she is now happily alongside your Dad, smiling and dancing.
Dave, Karen and Kelly Knack