Bee O’Connell



Memorial Contributions may be made to:

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church

1935 Plymouth Ave SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Bee O’Connell, age 95, of Grand Rapids MI, passed away Sunday, October 28, 2018. She was born to the late Harry Clarke and Matilda (Hughes) on November 7, 1922. Bee was preceded in death by her husband, Barney; children, Thomas and Susan; great-grandson, Conner; sister, Maureen; and brothers, Gerald and Terry. Bee was born in Winnipeg Manitoba and was an ambitious young woman who loved to work, shop, dance, skate and ski.  Bee was noted for being the first woman ever allowed to work on the trading floor within the Winnipeg Grain Exchange. Hired as a “runner,“ she was soon promoted to the task of adding the daily receipts on one of the original “comptometer“ machines. Her grasp of numbers and her uncanny recall of names, faces and information served her well throughout her life. Soon after WWII, Bee met Barney, her future husband of 49 years, at a St. Ignatius Dance and the rest was, as she would say, “history.” Barney’s professional hockey playing would take them to Toledo, OH where they would settle down, become USA Citizens and raise a family. Eventually they relocated to Grand Rapids to further Barney’s career in apparel. Bee was immensely proud of a front page November 1960 issue of the Toledo Blade newspaper which featured a photo of her and Barney coming out of the courthouse announcing their US citizenship with the headline, “Looks Like They’re Playing for a New Team.” Bee went on to work for JC Penny for almost 20 years. She enjoyed traveling to visit family across the country and still enjoyed a good martini long after most. Bee was also a long  time member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Family and friends will lovingly recall Bee’s original poetry and “Bee-isms.” She was always the life of any party and found years of joy and companionship at her final home, Heather Hills Retirement Center. Bee is survived by daughters, Shannon Walker and Terri Louder; son, Timothy O’Connell; her children’s spouses; as well as seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and her Canadian family. Visitation will be Friday, November 2 at 10 AM, with a eulogy at 10:30 AM, followed by a Celebration of Life at 11 AM at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 1935 Plymouth Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506. Rev. Troy Nevins, celebrant. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

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