Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Cancer claims beloved Pasco educator Art O'Donnell

NEW PORT RICHEY — Arthur O'Donnell was a math genius.

Just ask Jessica Meek. As a student at Hudson High School, Meek said, her geometry teacher offered only one way to solve a problem, a method that didn't really help.

So she turned to Dr. O'Donnell, a math teacher turned principal, for advice.

"Within five minutes he had me mastering it," recalled Meek, now an assistant principal at the school. "He was a great guy. … It's people like him who inspired people like me to take this path."

Similar memories flowed Thursday (Jan. 2, 2014) as word spread that Dr. O'Donnell had died early that morning at 67. The longtime educator, known affectionately as Dr. O to his students and staff, succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

The illness caught Dr. O'Donnell and his family by surprise.

In generally good health, he had a small stomachache in early November that a couple days of Tums didn't dispatch. So his wife, Renee, suggested consulting a doctor. A scan for ulcers revealed the aggressive disease.

For more than three decades, Dr. O'Donnell made his mark in Pasco County as a school leader. He started his career in the late 1960s as a 22-year-old actuary turned math instructor at Gulf Middle School.

He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming Gulf High principal in 1974. He later served in the district office as a math specialist before returning to the principal's post at Hudson High for 13 years and then Ridgewood High for five years until his retirement.

"Art was a man of integrity, a man that treated people fairly," said Chip Wichmanowski, a friend and former fellow principal.

Mike Asbell, who worked as an assistant principal with Dr. O'Donnell for 11 years, called his friend and mentor a "genuine people person" who led by example, not by fiat.

"We used to joke he was the kind of person who could call you in and chew you out for something you screwed up, and you would walk out and say thank you," said Asbell, now principal at Bayonet Point Middle School. "He didn't tear you down. He went that extra step. He helped you fix it."

Asbell recalled much laughter in staff meetings, something many other colleagues shared in their postings on a Facebook page honoring Dr. O. Students also shared fond remembrances.

One former student, Eddie Addis, wrote how Dr. O'Donnell turned his life around when he was going "nowhere fast," showing Addis the "right way and helped me get there." Another student, Heather Cox, wrote about Dr. O'Donnell's willingness to work through problems and help students achieve their education needs.

"His heart was at the school. His heart was helping kids," Asbell said. "Unfortunately, they threw the mold away when they made Art O'Donnell. There's never been another principal like him, and there never will be."

Meek suggested that Dr. O'Donnell's influence can be seen daily at Hudson High, where many in the faculty are also alumni. He instilled that type of loyalty and family atmosphere, she said.

Dr. O'Donnell's retirement focused on his own family, his son David said, calling his father his "best friend."

"I'd call him every day. They live close. I'd always shoot over there," he said. "Any time they did anything, he always called me for an invite. … He was real supportive."

He kept busy doing housework, treating his wife, Renee, like royalty until he couldn't any longer, David O'Donnell added. "They're nuts about each other."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Teen killed in crash remembered as

Teen killed in crash remembered as "always smiling and laughing"

WEEKI WACHEE — Seth Leathers was on his way to play basketball at his church when he was killed Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, according to family friend Laurie Pike.Leathers, 16, was the passenger in a car driven by his friend G...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

After a two-hour weather delay Saturday evening at USF, the remote local threat of lightning finally dissipated.The postseason intensity never did.For the second consecutive night, the UCF-USF baseball series delivered, this time with the Bulls (25-1...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by the how the Florida black bear roamed — and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of ...
Published: 04/22/18
Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

OAKLAND, Calif. – Sean Manaea watched as Marcus Semien fired a ball from short to second baseman Jed Lowrie, turned around, and jumped into the arms of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. History was made at the Coliseum.Manaea no-hit the Red Sox on ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

* Is it time to take the leap and believe this is the real Blake Snell? He talked a good game this spring and pitched well in his debut, but that rough second outing raised old doubts. But a good outing in Chicago and two dominant ones on the homesta...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

When the Rays, in the opening weekend of their 20th anniversary celebration season, brought back and honored the inaugural 1998 Devil Rays squad, it got us thinking unexpected thoughts, such as which was a better team:The first one, or the current on...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

ST. PETERSBURG – Let's be clear here, the Rays still have a long way to go, and a lot of ground to make up.But seeing them play like they did Saturday in beating the Twins 10-1, putting on a solid all-around show in cobbling their first three-g...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Updated: 10 hours ago