Obituary: Joseph R. O’Donnell

Joseph R. O’Donnell

It is with heavy hearts that the family of Joseph R. O’Donnell announces his passing on Thursday, January 17, 2019, at the age of 77 from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Born and raised in Milan, MI, Joe will be remembered as a gentle spirit who cared deeply for his community and connected with many on a personal level. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1963, Joe moved to Buffalo, NY where he played as an offensive lineman for eight seasons for the Buffalo Bills. After retiring from football and moving back to Milan, Joe was active in civic affairs serving on the school board for 18 years. In the 1980s Joe organized the annual “Great American Pig Roast” which was a successful fundraising event for the school district. He also was a member of Milan Civitan and helped co-chair the Christmas basket project for over 20 years. In addition, Joe also served as a member of Milan High School football coaching staff for 25 years.
Joe will be lovingly remembered by his three sons, James (Karen) of Portland, Christopher (Bonnie) of Dayton, and Ryan (Theresa) of Seattle and his seven grandchildren, Andrew, Sarah, Henry, William, Katherine, Eden, and Mylah. He will also be fondly remembered by his siblings, Mary (Harvey) Greenleaf of Milan, Pat (Barb) O’Donnell of Ann Arbor and Denny (Fred Pergil) O’Donnell of Hawaii, and many nieces, nephews, friends. Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Buck and Florence, wife Caroline, brother Dick, sister Jean, niece Keri, and nephew Richard Greenleaf.
The family will receive friends at Ochalek-Stark Funeral Home in Milan on Friday, February 1st from 2:00-8:00 pm. A funeral service in memory of Joe will be held at Milan Baptist Church on Saturday, February 2nd, at 11:00 am with visitation beginning at 10:00 am. Burial will follow at Marble Park Cemetery.
The Joe O’Donnell Scholarship Fund for Milan students will be created in Joe’s memory. Those wishing to contribute can do so online at or through Ochalek-Stark Funeral Home in Milan, MI. Envelopes will be available at the service.

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