Donald Barry O'Connell

Donald Barry O’Connell died following a series of debilitating strokes in July 2007. Don suffered several small strokes in the early 1980s. After additional years of declining health, a serious fall led to Don’s admittance at the VA hospital in the beautiful wine country of  Livermore, CA, where he lived out his final days until his death on 19 July 2007. He was ultimately brought back home to San Diego with a service that included full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, where he joined his parents and brothers overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the city that he loved.


Don was born on 31 March 1933 in Portsmouth, NH, the son of a Navy doctor. Don grew up as a Navy junior and spent many of his high school years in Quantico, where his father was serving. Don entered the Naval Academy with a presidential appointment in 1952 and was a proud member of the 23rd Company. He was better known within the Company as “Tiger,” a special nickname that he acquired during Plebe Year where the Class of ’53 overseers seemed to take extra delight in having him produce a “growl” on command for their delight. As the growls continued, the nickname “Tiger” stuck—only with a bit more enjoyment and respect from his classmates. Following graduation, Don reported to BOYD (DD-544) in San Francisco. Although little is known of his service time on BOYD or any subsequent duty stations, he ended up in his beloved San Diego at the time he resigned his regular commission in 1960.


Upon his departure from the Navy, he diligently pursued an itinerant aerospace career joining Aero jet General in Sacramento, CA, as a Titan Rocket engine test engineer. This is where he met and ultimately married Sarah White in 1965. The following year, Don took his bride across the continent to Hartford, CT, to join Pratt & Whitney’s jet engine testing program. Shortly thereafter, his love for California brought the family back to the Bay Area, where Don joined the Westinghouse Division in Sunnyvale working on the test and development of handling equipment for the military. He is survived by his son Sean and daughter Stacey. The O’Connell Family and Jim Brunner ’56