Anne Hayes O’Connell, 92, a proud Newport native, died Tuesday, January 26, 2016, at Newport Hospital. She was married for 64 years to her high school sweetheart, James J. O’Connell, Jr. who died in 2009.
Born in Newport on January 31, 1923, she was the daughter of John F. Hayes and Anna (O’Neill) Hayes.
Mrs. O’Connell was the consummate scholar. She graduated from Rogers High School as class president in 1940, where she received the King Medal as valedictorian. She earned a BA in history from St. Elizabeth’s College, Convent Station, NJ, where she was also class president. She went on to graduate school at Fordham University. Her thirst for knowledge was never quenched. Mrs. O’Connell was a voracious reader with a dictionary and atlas as her constant companions. Even at 92, she would read daily at the St. Clare Home without the use of reading glasses, much to the envy of her bespectacled children.
In her early years she taught elementary school. After raising her six children, she began a career as a tour guide for the Preservation Society at several Newport mansions. She was an expert on everything Newport and was eminently suited because of her love of history and Gilded Age families.
An avid swimmer and golfer, she loved spending time with her father at the Newport Country Club, where he was the golf professional. She and her husband competed in ballroom dancing and traveled extensively. Among her other passions were knitting, baking, and composing personal letters. She was a lifelong member of Hazard’s Beach and the Redwood Library.
Mrs. O’Connell was a long time communicant of St. Joseph’s Church. She was very active in the Parish and served as a Eucharistic minister. Throughout her lifetime she was active in many school and civic organizations.
She was a paragon of wisdom, wit, grace, and elegance. As a mother, she nurtured and guided her children to achieve their dreams, while always encouraging them to use their gifts to build a better world. She was a loyal friend, adored by her children and revered by everyone who met her.
Anne leaves six children: Kathleen Callahan, James J. O’Connell III, Mary McKenna, William C. O’Connell, Patrick H. O’Connell and Michaela Cannon. She leaves two sisters, Ellen Hayes Lee, of Norwich, NY, and Mary Hayes Coogan of San Diego, California.
She was the sister of the late Patrick O’Neill Hayes and John F. Hayes Jr.
She was a devoted grandmother to Emma Callahan, Christine O’Connell, Jack Cannon, Michael O’Connell, David O’Connell, Harry Cannon, Hailey O’Connell, Ellie Cannon, Aidan O’Connell, and Gabriella O’Connell. She was the great-grandmother to Grace Bohan.
Calling hours will be held at the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring Street, Newport, on Friday, January 29, 2016 from 4-7 p.m.
Her funeral will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Church, Broadway, Newport.
Memorial donations may be made to St. Joseph’s Church, Broadway, Newport, RI 02840, or The St. Clare Home, 309 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02840.