Vickie O'Connell

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Vickie A. O'Connell passed away Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 in her home surrounded by family, from complications of ovarian cancer. Vickie was known for her deep love of life, especially her family and friends, bringing people together and caring for others.

Born in Newport, Washington, Vickie grew up in Priest River, Idaho, on the Italian Settlement and community, where many of her close relatives live today. Along with her mother, Laura (Naccarato) Lefebvre, father Isadore Lefebvre, and brother Larry, the family moved to Longview, Washington, as Vickie finished grade school. She attended R.A. Long High School where she made many lifelong friends.

While in Longview, she also met the love of her life, Tom O’Connell. They dated and were married on Aug. 29, 1964, soon after she turned 20 years old. They remained married for the remainder of her life. They lived in Longview as Tom began teaching in Castle Rock, and together, they began to build their family, giving birth to a daughter, Colleen, and a son, Kevin. They moved to Centralia, Washington, in 1969 where Tom taught at the high school and their son Sean was born.

Above all else, Vickie placed value on her family. Her home was always the gathering place for holidays and events. She welcomed many into her fold who were not her blood relatives, but family nevertheless. All were welcome at her table and in her company, and many found comfort under her roof and in her care. She hosted exchange students, friends and family members, and anyone who needed a space to feel welcome. Be it for an hour, or for a year, her door was always open.

Vickie always valued the needs of others above her own. As her children grew, she worked as a teacher’s aide in the high school’s special education classroom for 11 years. Many came to know her best as the principal secretary of Centralia Junior High and high schools. Often quiet and seemingly reserved, Vickie won people over by her example, not her words. She convinced by her kindness, not her command. And she demonstrated her unflappable sensibilities and her resolve in her own humble, yet firm way.

She put her indomitable faith and spirit to use helping others, volunteering and helping wherever she found the need. She was an active member of St. Rose church while in Longview, St. Mary’s parish in Centralia, and St. Francis mission in Toledo, after moving to Chehalis in retirement. In later years, she knitted countless hats for the homeless, and volunteered with No One Dies Alone, visiting people dying in the hospital. If anyone needed a volunteer for a school or church event to help others, they knew Vickie’s name would be first on the list.

Vickie enjoyed cooking and hosting gatherings. It was assumed by all that holiday dinners would be at the O’Connell house. She cooked delicious Italian meals as an expression of the love in her heart for others. In her free time, Vickie would often be found tending her expansive fland lush flower and vegetable gardens. They were her joy and an expression of her love of bringing life and beauty into the world.

Vickie reserved judgment, remained humble and kind, and was always welcoming and warmhearted. And to those that knew her best, Vickie was one of the dearest people many had ever known. Her spirit lives on in heaven and in the hearts of all who knew her.

She leaves behind her husband Tom O’Connell; brother Larry Lefebvre of Clatskanie, Oregon; daughter Colleen and spouse Mark Crawford; son Kevin O’Connell and spouse Meghan Coughlin; and her son Sean O’Connell and spouse Ai Takashima; as well as her grandchildren Katie (34), Meghan (25), Chance (23), Call (18), Maeve (16), Rory (13), Junichi (18) and Kaori (8); one great-grandchild Jayden (12), as well as dozens of devoted and cherished cousins, nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 11 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Mission, 139 Spencer Road, Toledo, Washington, 98591.

flIn lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your local hospice or Palliative Nursing Care, to further the profound work they are doing in your neighborhood.

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