Timothy O’Connell, a well-liked clinic aide for a decade at Falls Church’s Mt. Daniel Elementary School until his retirement in 2010, died earlier this month, the News-Press has learned. O’Connell’s service and his death was briefly acknowledged by Falls Church Mayor David Tarter at a City Council meeting last week.
According to the City schools’ public info office, O’Connell “was known for his kindness and gentleness with children. He used a lot of puppets to help children feel at ease and played the part of Birdsey Northrup on annual “visits” to Mt. Daniel for Arbor Day celebrations.
He has two sons and a daughter, the youngest, Liam, graduating from George Mason High School. Following his marriage in New York in 1999, he moved to Falls Church and helped raise his wife’s oldest son, James Brenaman, from age four, and Brenaman in 2006 competed in an won the CBS-TV’s “Amazing Race” reality show, returning to Falls Church in December 2006 for a visit with his mother and O’Connell and for an interview in the News-Press about his “Amazing Race” adventure.
According to his Linkedin profile, O’Connell graduated from Seton Hall University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1962, from the Catholic University of America with an S.T.B. in theological studies in 1966, and from the University of Maryland with a master’s degree in psychological counseling in 1973.
He also had a web page at “Wedding Wire.com” where he promoted his credentials as an ordained Catholic priest qualified to be an officiant for the celebration of marriage vows since 1966. “I’ll marry anyone who’s human,” the site states, with service options for interfaith, non-religious or single religion services.
On the site, he wrote, “With the understanding that all of the true religions are equal in the sight of God…I have officiated at weddings of almost every religious and ethnic stripe and at weddings of atheists, gnostics ands agnostics.” Citing his college and graduate degrees, he wrote, “My passions and skills include ‘daddying’ three children to their maturity…I have met with an walked with Dr. (Martin Luther) King, written nationally regarding the radical equality of women and the need for women Catholic priests, been imprisoned for matters of war and conscience and stood toe to toe with the Pope asking publicly that the issue of birth control be left to the informed consciences of each couple.”
Among the 144 positive reviews of his officiant services on his site, one wrote, “Timothy has an incredibly warm and gracious manner: he gave our ceremony such an intimate, personal vibe…Timothy has the rare gift of being able to talk about spirituality in a way that feels lofty yet genuine, elevated yet real.”