GLADSTONE - 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, and never having seen snow before in her life, in February of 1947. 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 in 1955 of Bark River, Craig Stephen McDonnell in 1962 of Menominee, and Brett James McDonnell in 1964 of Stacy, Minn., formerly of Gladstone. Rita's husband Joe passed away on Oct. 18, 1995, and she moved to Gladstone in 2001 to be closer to her children.
Rita (O’Dea) McDonnell
Rita has 12 grandchildren, Roy Joseph (Debbie) Mosier of Alamo, Tenn., Christopher Mosier of Alamo, Cathy (Leo) DELA PAZ of Brownsville, Tenn., family of Glennis and Roy Mosier; Ryan (Abby) McDonnell of Freeland, Mich. and Erin (Nate) Lind of Boulder, Colo., family of Joseph and Susan McDonnell; Michael McDonnell of Shelby Twp. Mich., 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 at 11 a.m. at All Saints Catholic Church 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, Mich. 49808. The Skradski Family Funeral Homes of Delta County are assisting the McDonnell family with arrangements. Messages of condolence may be directed online at www.skradskifuneralhomes.com.