John "Jack" O'Donnell

Obituary
  • "An amazing tribute to an amazing man.so intelligent and..."
    - Carol Penta

John "Jack" O'Donnell

NOVA SCOTIA - John "Jack" O'Donnell, 83, died peacefully on Oct. 25, 2018 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Born in Portland, Maine, son of the late John Clark and  Lillian Louise (Fowler) O'Donnell. He leaves his wife, Judith;  his son, John (Nancy LaRose); son, Christopher (Carrie Redpath); daughter, Lynn (Wayne Johnson); seven granddaughters; sister, Pat (John Roberts) of South Portland, Maine; and several cousins, nieces, and nephews.He was predeceased by his brother, Richard; and his great-nephews, Robert O'Donnell and John Terrence Norton.Jack was Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Music at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish for 40 years. He held graduate degrees in music education (Gonzaga University), and in musicology (University of London, Kings College). He also served for 50 years as conductor and musical director of Cape Breton's coal miners' choir, The Men of the Deeps.In 1983, Jack was awarded the Order of Canada for his work with The Men of the Deeps, and for playing a key role with his wife, Judy, in helping to establish L'Arche in Antigonish. In 1993, he received the degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) Honoris Causa from Cape Breton University. His work with The Men of the Deeps was again recognized in 2013 when Cape Breton University's Beaton Institute presented him with the inaugural Katharine McLennan Award; in 2015, when he was recognized by the East Coast Music Association with the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award; and in 2016 when he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, LLD, from St. Francis Xavier University. Jack will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, and brother; as a highly gifted musician, composer, arranger, and director; as an excellent teacher, as an accomplished author, and as a dedicated member of the Antigonish community. As per Jack's request, a small private family funeral liturgy will be held with burial taking place at a later date. A public musical celebration of Jack's life is also being planned and will take place at a time to be announced in the coming weeks.  

Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Oct. 31, 2018
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