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