Gordon W. O’Donnell, 89: Lifelong commitment to community service

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BRUNSWICK — Gordon W. O’Donnell, 89, died April 5 surrounded by family at the Mid Coast Senior Health Center.

On June 29, 1920, he was born in Portland, the son of Churchill and Margaret Shirley Garden O’Donnell.

In 1938 he graduated from Deering High School.

In 1941 he began working at A.H. Benoit & Company for a short period before enlisting in the U.S Army in May 1942. He served in Europe as a commissioned second lieutenant and eventually left active duty in 1946 after receiving the Bronze Star.

On Feb. 5, 1944, he married Mary L. Skillin, whom he met while performing Gilbert & Sullivan for the Portland Players, and together they raised five children. 

He returned to work at A.H. Benoit & Company as a manager of Benoit’s store, and continued his employment with Benoit’s until he retired in 1982.

Throughout his life he was active in community service and was recognized with several service awards.  Over the years he chaired the Red Cross fund drive and the United Fund Campaign; was a long-time member, past president, and Paul Harris Fellow of the Brunswick Rotary Club; was a member of the board of directors of the Brunswick Savings Institution; served as past president of the Brunswick Area Chamber of Commerce; and was a trustee of Regional Hospital and Mid Coast Health Service for many years. Even in his retirement he continued to volunteer at the hospital in many capacities.

He also attended Olympic trials around the country on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee. In 1994 he travelled to the Winter Olympics Games in Switzerland with his good friend, Dr. Daniel F. Hanley, as a member of his drug-testing team.

He was predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Mary Skillin O’Donnell, and a son, Gordon F. O’Donnell, who died in 1994.

Survivors include two daughters, Anne Dishman of Westbrook, and Mary Lord of Durham and two sons, James C. and his wife Diana of Brunswick and Stephen W. and his wife Elaine of Shepherdstown, W.Va.; nine grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

Memorial services were held last week.

Arrangements are by Stetson’s Funeral Home, 12 Federal St., Brunswick.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Gordon O’Donnell Scholarship Fund, which was established to provide leadership training opportunities for hospital trustees from around the state.  Contributions may be mailed to the Daniel Hanley Leadership Center P.O. Box 15275, Portland, ME 04112.

Memorial condolences may be expressed and a video tribute may be viewed at stetsonsfuneralhome.com.

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