William C. O'Donnell, Jr., a former teacher, lawyer and third generation Californian, died Oct. 27 in Anaheim Hills after a long illness. Mr. O'Donnell was 89-years-old. Mr. O'Donnell or "Bill" as he was known by family and friends, was born in San Luis Obispo in 1924, to Zillah Forbes O'Donnell and William C. O'Donnell, Sr. He was the eldest of four children. He received a bachelor's degree in biology from USC, a teaching credential from UCLA, a master's degree in education from Immaculate Heart College and a law degree from La Salle University. At UCLA, he met his wife, Marguerite "Maggie" Goshay, a native of Hollywood. Bill and Maggie married in 1949 and were the parents of eight children. Bill taught high school science in the San Francisco and Los Angeles Unified School Districts for nearly 20 years and was active in Southern California politics. In the 1960s, he served as the first Director of Education at the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California Science Center). He passed the California Bar examination in 1968 and then served as the field representative for Chet Holifield, the longtime Democratic U.S. Congressman for the 19th District. In 1976 he began practicing law full time. Bill and Maggie raised their large family in a late 1800s two-story, redwood farmhouse in the Los Angeles suburb of Pico Rivera, where he practiced law for nearly 40 years. In the 1970s, Bill's belief in public service and his love of politics spurred him to unsuccessfully run for both the California Assembly and the U.S. Congress. His interest in politics continued throughout his entire life and he always encouraged vigorous discussion on political and current events. In 2001, Bill and Maggie retired to Oceanside where Bill continued to be a "news junkie" and enjoy his lifelong interest in woodworking and fishing. He was a member of the Oceanside Senior Anglers and the North County Woodworkers. He is survived by his wife, Maggie, and seven of their eight children: Kathleen Beitiks of San Francisco; Tim (Gail) of Yorba Linda; Mary Jo Sloan (Gary) of Corona; Peggy (Alan Jones) of Sydney, Australia; Terence (Danna) of La Verne; Jeanne of Whittier and Elizabeth of Whittier. He is also survived by 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was predeceased in 2004 by his daughter Ann (Tony) Ybarra of Whittier. In addition, he is survived by his sister, Geraldine "Geri" Gibson of Scotts Valley. His brothers, Dr. John O'Donnell and James (Dan) O'Donnell, died in 1997 and 2001, respectively. A memorial service for Bill will be held on Sat., Dec. 28, 10 a.m., at the Brea Community Center, 695 Madison Way, Brea. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a contribution in Bill's memory be made to Immaculate Heart High School, 5515 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles CA, 90028.
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Published in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 14, 2013