GLADSTONE, Mich. — Rita (O’Dea) McDonnell, 85, passed away Monday afternoon, Oct. 14, 2013, at her residence in Gladstone.
Rita (O’Dea) McDonnell was born in Northam, West Australia, on March 28, 1928. The daughter of Vernon Patrick and Eileen O’Dea of West Australia, she is survived by brothers, John, Louie and Anthony O’Dea; and sisters, Kathleen O’Dea and Rosemary (O’Dea) Merrifield. Her loving sister, Nancy (O’Dea) Higgs, preceded her in death.
Rita met Joseph G. McDonnell, of Houghton, in 1944, and was married in 1945. Joseph was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II and stationed at a Navy ship repair base in West Australia. Rita and Joe had five children. Glennis Mosier, of Alamo, Tenn., and the late Dale McDonnell, who passed away in 2004 (Vietnam Veteran, Bronze Star recipient and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery), were born in West Australia in 1945 and 1946. In 1947, after the war ended, they boarded a U.S. Navy troop transport ship, destined for the United States. Following a six-week journey across the Pacific Ocean, Rita and family arrived in San Francisco. Rita and family continued their journey via rail, arriving in Houghton in February 1947, and never having seen snow before in her life.
Upon arriving in Michigan’s Copper Country, Rita and her children joined her husband and were immediately embraced by the entire McDonnell family. They made their life and raised their family in the western U.P. communities of Houghton, Dollar Bay and White Pine. They had three more sons, Joseph K. McDonnell, of Bark River, in 1955, Craig Stephen McDonnell, of Menominee, in 1962, and Brett James McDonnell of Stacy, Minn., formerly of Gladstone, in 1964. Rita’s husband Joe passed away on Oct. 18, 1995, and she moved to Gladstone in 2001 to be closer to her children.
Rita has 12 grandchildren, Roy Joseph (Debbie) Mosier, of Alamo, Christopher Mosier, of Alamo, Cathy (Leo) DELA PAZ, of Brownsville, Tenn. (family of Glennis and Roy Mosier); Ryan (Abby) McDonnell, of Freeland, Erin (Nate) Lind, of Boulder, Colo. (family of Joseph and Susan McDonnell); Michael McDonnell, of Shelby Township, Kennedy McDonnell, of Menominee, Madison McDonnell, of Menominee, Regan McDonnell, of Menominee, (family of Craig and Debbie McDonnell); Sarah (Kyle) Nelson, of Lindstrom, Minn., Ian McDonnell, of Gladstone, and Jalen McDonnell, of Stacy, Minn. (family of Brett and Gloria McDonnell). Rita also has nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Mass of Christian Burial services will be held on Friday, Oct. 18, at 11 a.m., at All Saints Catholic Church in Gladstone, with Deacon Terry Saunders of St. Anne Church and Rev. Fr. Jamie Ziminski of All Saints Church officiating.
Luncheon will follow at Rita’s home in Gladstone.
Rita will be laid to rest next to her husband in the Carp Lake Cemetery in Ontonagon.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to Bay Cliff Health Camp for children’s health and therapy, P.O. Box 310, Big Bay MI 49808.
The Skradski Family Funeral Homes of Delta County are assisting the McDonnell family with arrangements. Messages of condolence may be directed online at skradskifuneralhomes.com.