NEW BERN - Thomas Francis O'Donnell, 80, went to be with our Lord on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014.
Tom was born on Dec. 5, 1933, to parents Thomas Henry O'Donnell and Frances Carmody O'Donnell.
Tom, or "OD" as he was affectionately called, served for 30 years, active duty and reserve, as a United States Marine seeing action in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He earned the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant before retiring in 1975. Tom stood as a guardian of the peace throughout the world, ready to answer our Nation's call in time of war. Tom was proud of being a U.S. Marine and many stories surround his leadership and instructional abilities during his military career. If you were one of the lucky ones to be invited to his Brices Creek home, his patriotism and love for his country shown bright. His life was always centered around service toward others.
In 1979, after his distinguished career as a Marine, Tom began another career as an educator at Craven Community College. He began as an electrical/electronics instructor, then became Department Chair for the Heating/AC, electrical engineering and industrial maintenance technology areas. He ended his career as the Dean of Industrial Technologies, retiring after 27 years. Tom was a dedicated teacher throughout his life, giving his knowledge to marines and students alike. Tom's first student was his brother Richard whom he taught the fine art of ironing. He loved what he did and it showed. Tom never minced words. You always knew where you stood with him. He was straight-forward, consistent and fair. As Si Seymore, and many other colleagues, would say about Tom, "He was one of the few people in this world who you knew was bigger than life." That was the man Tom was.
Tom was married to his beloved wife, Beverly Joan O'Donnell, for 35 years. Bev had just thrown Tom his 80th birthday party on Dec. 7, 2013, attended by more than 65 of his closest friends and family.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Cookie and daughter-in-law, Lisa Iliffe.
Along with his wonderful wife, Tom is survived by his two sons, Bill Iliffe of Maui, Hawaii, and Scott Iliffe, and his wife Tracey, of Stem, along with their two children, Kevin and Allison. He leaves behind two brothers, Richard, and wife Joan, of Suffern, N.Y., and Gene, and wife Gerry, of Old Bridge, N.J. Also surviving are sister-in-laws, Thelma, Charlotte (Greg), Orise (Ralph), Patty (Nelson) and Sharon (Melvin); brother-in-law, Ralph (Lil), and many nieces and nephews.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 14 at St. Paul's Catholic Church, 3005 Country Club Road, New Bern. Burial will follow at noon at Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, 110 Montford Point Road, Jacksonville. A celebration of Tom's life will be held at Infant of Prague Catholic Church Parish Hall at 2 p.m. Friday, following internment.
Memorials may be made, in Tom's honor, to the Wounded Warrior Regiment, 3025 John Quick Road, MCB Quantico, VA 22134, c/o Charitable Donations Coordinator. Make Checks Payable to Dept. of NAVY GIFT FUND with the Memo Line to state Wounded Warrior Regiment.
Tom's life was Semper Fi!
Electronic condolences may be left for the family at jonesfh.org.