Obituary: Michael E. O’Connell (1977-2023)

Michael E. O’Connell, 45, of Cleveland, OH died unexpectedly on September 6, 2023. He was the son of Edna Guilmette O’Connell and the late Peter J. O’Connell. He was the husband of Jeffrey Henning-O’Connell of Cleveland. He leaves behind his brother Ryan F. O’Connell of Brooklyn, NY, his sister-in-law, Rachel, and his niece Gilly. He also leaves his aunt and uncle, Peter and Adrienne Ranelli of Newport and his aunt Eileen O’C. Ahern of Alexandria, VA. Michael also leaves behind his Minnesota family: mother-in-law, Irma Robinson, brother-in-law, Jerry Robinson (Kari); nephews, Caleb and Cole and Jeffrey’s grandmother, Alma Robinson. He leaves many cherished cousins and many wonderful friends in Newport, Cleveland, and Minnesota.

He was predeceased by his aunt Kathleen O’Connell and his uncle Capt. Timothy M. Ahern, USN.

Michael was born in Newport, RI at 11:04 a.m. on November 4, 1977, the coincidence of time and date causing great excitement in the delivery room. He attended Newport Public Schools and graduated from Rogers in 1995. As did many Fifth Ward youths, Michael served as an altar boy at St. Augustin’s Church for many years. He spent countless summer days at Gooseberry Beach.

While attending Thompson, he was introduced to the double bass by an influential music teacher. His appreciation and love of classical music and performance on the bass accelerated through high school. He distinguished himself as a member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and was awarded All State status many times. As his talent grew so too did his opportunities. He auditioned and was accepted into the summer program at Tanglewood in Lenox, MA where he was principal bass in the youth orchestra summer concerts.

At Rogers, Michael distinguished himself academically, musically, and athletically. He played #1 singles for the Vikings tennis team and was named as the Rogers recipient of the 1995 Providence Journal honor roll for his academic and athletic achievements. Michael earned his degree in Musical Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1999, while also playing on the varsity tennis team and earning an ITA Scholar Athlete All American award.

After graduation, he stayed in Ohio and in 2004 started as a manager in a branch of Citizens Bank. He was a dedicated employee of Citizens for 19 years. In 2019 he married his best friend, Jeffrey, and they lived happily in Cleveland.

Michael will be remembered for his love of life and music and his love of spending time with his family and friends. He dedicated many hours of service to the Cleveland community while working at Citizens and helping to serve dinners sponsored by the American Legion Post.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held Thursday, September 14, 2023 at St. Augustin’s Church, corner of Carroll Ave & Harrison Ave, Newport at 10:00 AM. Burial will follow in St. Columba Cemetery, 465 Brown’s Lane, Middletown.

Donations in Michael’s memory can be made to RIPYO (Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra) 667 Waterman Ave, East Providence, RI 02914 or online at Please put RIPYO in the notes.




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