On March 3, God called Janet O’Connell to join her husband Paul, parents Claire and Charles Bernard, and her sisters Marjorie Walsh and Dorothy Brown in Heaven.
Janet realized her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse when, at age 40, she graduated from the Community College of Rhode Island’s Nurse Program. She was a driven student; she managed to stay at the top of her class while raising four children. She cared deeply for her patients on the pediatric unit and operating recovery room at Kent Hospital, the nursery at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and at West Bay and Greenwich Bay Manors. When nursing related injuries forced her to retire she made many friends at Blaine’s Sewing in Cranston where she helped customers choose a sewing machine or taught them how to make beautiful quilts.
Janet’s door on Walnut Glen Drive or in Wethersfield Commons was never locked. There was always someone at her kitchen table. She was there for her friends when they wanted to chat with or they needed someone to listen. Growing up, her children were never worried about inviting friends for supper. Frontotemporal dementia robbed Janet of her ability to speak but not her ability to communicate. With her eyes and her smile she showed that she had not lost her sense of humor. She showed concern for her fellow residents and, most of all, she showed that she loved her family, friends, and caregivers.
She leaves her children: Mary Shepard and her husband, Bob, of Richmond, RI; Patty O’Connell and her fiancé, Doyle Dickinson, of Devon, PA; Paul O’Connell, Jr. and his wife, Kathy, of Narragansett, RI; and Timothy O’Connell of South Kingstown, RI. She also leaves two sisters, Elaine LaPierre and Charlene Watson. Her ten grandchildren, Zachary and Emily Shepard of Richmond, RI; Evan, Ian, Liam, and Abby Correia of Devon, PA; Sean and Brendan O’Connell of Narragansett, RI; Timothy O’Connell of South Kingstown, RI, and Ryan O’Connell of Warwick, RI, were her special joy. She made sure that her cookie barrel was full and her arms always wide open. She made countless quilts for them, “each stitch, a stitch of love.”
The love, devotion, and respect of the caregivers on the Cove at St. Elizabeth’s Home will never be forgotten by Janet’s family.
Her Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 9 a.m. in St. Rose & Clement Parish, 111 Long Street, Warwick. Relatives and friends are invited and may call at the Church on Saturday, March 9, 2019 from 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Burial will follow in St. Francis Cemetery, Pawtucket.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the music program at St. Elizabeth Home, One St. Elizabeth Way, East Greenwich, RI 02818 would be appreciated. Funeral arrangements entrusted to the Urquart-Murphy Furphy Home, 800 Greenwich Ave., Warwick. www.murphyfuneralhomes.org