Charles O'Donnell, Sr.

Charles T. O'Donnell, Sr.

1935 - 2022

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Obituary of Charles T. O'Donnell, Sr.

On Monday, January 10, 2022, we lost Charles T. O’Donnell, Sr. of Essex, our Pop. How do you begin to tell the story of a master storyteller? Having never actually kissed the Blarney Stone, perhaps Pop managed to tap into his Irish heritage to channel it’s magic and would use any and all opportunities to share a good story. His personal tale began in Naugatuck where he was the fourth child of John E. O'Donnell, Sr and Josephine (Crowe) O'Donnell. From there he proudly served as a member of the United States Army as a medic at Ft. Sam Houston in Texas. Upon leaving the military, he pursued his passion for teaching by attending Central Connecticut State University and Boston University. Pop would spend the next 35 years in education. He was a special education teacher in Old Saybrook as well as a Old Saybrook High School’s JV Boys Soccer coach. He was instrumental in developing and bringing Project Learn into the Old Saybrook school system. During this time, Charlie also worked part time and summers at the Terra Mar in the early 60’s and later for Saybrook Hardware. The last chapter in his educational career was spent as a guidance counselor for 21 years at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. Pop closed out his working years as the co-owner of The Sew ‘n So Shop in Essex, where he delighted in his daily interactions with their customers who quickly became friends and family. The calling to give back that began with his military service remained strong throughout Charlie’s life. In the late 60s he served on the board of the Shoreline VNA, and was a member and vice president of the Jaycees. An EMT, he volunteered on the Essex Ambulance and was the president for several years, as well as a member of the board of directors and president of Valley Shore Emergency Communications. He taught CPR and First Aid to members of the shoreline community. Charlie also guided Essex through the Flood of 1982 as the town’s Director of Civil Preparedness. Of all of his tales our personal favorite is the enduring love story he shared with his wife of 61 years, Sabra (Sam) A. O’Donnell. He literally married the girl next door. They met while Charlie attended Central. He rented out a room in the house next to Sam. Their friendship turned to romance and in time Charlie earned his most prized nickname, “Pop.” It began with his children, C. Thomas O'Donnell, Jr.(wife, Melissa), Verna O’Donnell, the late David O’Donnell, Mary-Jo Wirtanen (husband, Robert), Janet Chapman (partner, Keith Murphey), and Jason Eichman (wife, Shannon). And continued to be the name of choice for his grandchildren, Lauren Kingston (finacé, Tobias Breuer), Annie Kingston (finacé,Steven Schneider), Charles M. O’Donnell (wife, Ashley), Colin O’Donnell, Catherine O’Donnell, Evan, Ethan, Eli, and Emery Homon, Casey Mather, Barbara Mather (partner Joseph Phillips), Daniel Mather (wife Sydney) , Eric and Marcus Eichman. And even his great grandchildren, Cassondra Phillips and Hannah Mather. Pop was particularly proud of the fact that his title remained unchanged as he became a grandfather and great grandfather. He liked to say it meant he never aged. He will also be remembered by his brother John O’Donnell, several nieces and nephews who in full disclosure do not refer to him as Pop. Charlie always maintained that curiosity was our greatest gift. He was an avid reader, crafter, grillmaster, YouTube viewer and student of life. In his honor please take a moment to share a story, listen to some Dixieland jazz, bake some bread, or learn something new. There will be visiting hours where more Pop stories will be shared on Saturday, January 15, 2022 from 2pm to 6pm at Robinson, Wright and Weymer Funeral Home, 34 Main Street, Centerbrook, Connecticut. A private burial will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Essex Ambulance Association, P.O. Box 233, Ivoryton, CT 06442


2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home
34 Main Street
Centerbrook, Connecticut, United States