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William J. O'Connell

July 23, 1929 September 23, 2012
William J. O'Connell
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Obituary for William J. O'Connell

Peoria – William J. O’Connell Jr., of Peoria, passed away Sunday Sept. 23, 2012 at his home surrounded by family after battling cancer.
He was born on July 23, 1929 in Kewanee, IL, the son of William J. O’Connell Sr. and Josephine (Robinson) O’Connell. He married Helen Rose Engel on January 26, 1957 in New Blaine, AR. She survives him as do his five children, Kelly (Dan) Kennelly of Littleton, CO; Thomas (Linda) O’Connell of Western Springs, IL; Timothy (Anita) O’Connell of Peoria, IL; Molly (George) Phoenix of Vernon Hills, IL; and David (Kristi) O’Connell of Gold River, CA. Also surviving are twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in his death by his parents and his infant son William Francis O’Connell.
He graduated with both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree from Bradley University. Bill was a lifelong employee of the Journal Star, where he retired in 1998 as the newspapers political reporter. He was a second generation reporter of the Journal Star. Bill authored the “Off the Political Grapevine” column for the newspaper. He was named the Illinois Journalist of the year in 1986 by Northern Illinois University. Bill received a national award from the American Political Science Association and has been honored by the Associated Press, the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Valley Press Club. He also served as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association.
In 1980, along with four friends, he formed the St. Patrick’s Society of Peoria. He was a lifetime member of the organization and remained active as an Ex-Officio Board member. Bill served as Grand Marshall of the Peoria St. Patrick’s parade in 1996.He was also a founder of the local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians where he was member for 23 years. He served as its President from 1999 to 2000. He was awarded the Hibernian of the Year in 1998 and the AOH Appreciation award in 1997. Bill was also a dedicated parishioner of St. Bernard’s parish in Peoria where he served many years as an usher at Sunday services. His faith, honesty and charitable works were extremely important to him and he was respected by all who knew him.
Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, September 29, 2012 at St. Bernard Catholic Church. Visitation will be held on Friday, September 28, 2012 from 4:30-8 p.m. at Wright Salmon Mortuary. An additional visitation will be one hour prior to the Mass at the church. Burial will be in Resurrection Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to St. Bernard Church or Ancient Order of Hibernians.
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