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Home  >  Kevin Tribute

Kevin O'Connell

This past year we lost a great person. Kevin O'Connell was a big person in many ways - mostly for his big contribution to the world and the people around him.

I've known Kevin since elementary school in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Even as a kid, Kevin always spoke his mind and made it absolutely clear what his point of view was. I'll always remember a political science debate about the merits of various nuclear weapon programs, Kevin expressed his point of view with the words of "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag", clearly the only sane viewpoint.

Kevin attended George Washington University for two years but never finished. His accomplishments never seemed to suffer from lack of a degree. He became a political organizer with a number of organizations including Massachusetts Peace Action, Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, Connecticut Citizen's Action Group, LEAP, and New Hampshire People's Alliance. Later Kevin became Senior Director of Emergency Services for the Red Cross. Never could you say Kevin wasn't helping to make the world a better place. Some say Kevin had a degree in life.

In 1985 Kevin married Kathleen Kelley. Throughout the lives they shared together Kevin and Kathleen shared many of the same causes and values. Later on in their lives they brought a son Liam into the world.

A die hard Red Sox fan, Kevin was every year hopeful that the Sox could overtake the Yankees or whatever team was in front of them. Like so many of us, he lived through the heartbreak of 1986 and being one strike away from the ever elusive Red Sox championship.

Kevin was the kind of Red Sox fan that would do anything to be at Fenway. During the playoff runs in the late '80s Kevin was in line for hours to score a couple of bleacher or even standing room tickets for a playoff game. Kevin invited me to go to the only playoff game I've ever been to - a freezing October night when the Sox and Clemens got smoked by the Angels in the first game of the '86 playoffs. The outcome wasn't great, but sharing it with a great Sox fan like Kevin was terrific.

In 2002, Kevin was stricken with pancreatic cancer. He fought valiantly through the disease and the debilitating chemotherapy until he succumbed 8 months later. Everyone who knew Kevin rooted for him until the end, but unfortunately medical science simply has not caught up with the cancer that Kevin was stricken with. The world is better for having Kevin for 43 years but we'll have to move on without him.

We are saddened by Kevin's death, but the fight against cancer moves on. The Dana Farber Cancer Institute has been doing some of the most pioneering work in the search for cancer treatments for many years. This year my wife Joan and I are riding in the Pan Mass Challenge to raise money for the Jimmy Fund. Contributing to the Jimmy Fund can help make a difference in the lives of people stricken with cancer and can help keep the memory of Kevin alive. Click on the link below to make a contribution.

Thank you. --Matt Osber

Click here to make a contribution