Dr. James J. O'Connell
1944 - 2020
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Dr. James J. O'Connell

Deming - Dr. James J. O'Connell passed from this world on October 26th, 2020. Known to most as Jim or 'Doc', he was an eternal optimist and dreamer.

Jim was born in Chicago, IL on February 26, 1944 to John and Doris O'Connell. He met and married the love of his life, Ellen (Pickles) O'Connell in 1967. He enlisted in the Army in 1966 and was stationed in Albuquerque where they fell in love with the mountains and the southwest. Following honorable discharge from the Army, he returned to Chicago to complete Dental school at Loyola University and moved to Deming in 1974 to begin his dental practice at Deming Dental Services. He would proudly serve the community in this capacity for 32 years, not only as a dentist but also as a board of director's member and chair for Delta Dental of New Mexico and as a mentor for Pre-Dental students attending New Mexico State University. During this time, he felt privileged to treat many generations and took great pride and joy in his work. He retired in 2006 but continued to stay busy within the community. Recently, he assisted the staff at Deming Orthodontics and frequently remarked how great it was to see the children or grandchildren of former patients.

Jim's desire to serve his community included long term involvement in multiple service organizations including the Lions Club and Rotary International. A long-time member of the Lions club, he served as the district governor in 1985-1986, and was instrumental in starting the eye screening program for elementary school children in Luna County. He worked diligently with Rotary to start the Celebration of Life in Deming and was very involved in the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA) program, serving as a camp counselor for the last several years. Jim was also a part of the Community Health Care Foundation, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the New Mexico Dental Association as a Southwest District Trustee.

Jim loved to travel and was fortunate to take many wonderful trips with Ellen including scuba diving excursions, cruises and road trips through Ireland. He loved the water, boating, fishing and scuba diving and shared his love of these with all of his family. Weekends at Elephant Butte were a summer tradition. Jim was also an avid gardener with a passion for unusual plants. As part of this hobby, he grew a vast variety of orchids, lilies and plumeria. There were always at least three orchid plants blooming in their home on any day of the year. Stray or injured animals had a way of finding their way to Jim as well, and during his life, he cared for many including chickens, ducks, turtles, an injured turkey vulture and an abandoned quail to name a few of the more unusual creatures he found in his care.

More than anything, he loved his family. His love, support, wisdom and humor were legendary and steadfast and our memories of him will be carried in our hearts always.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ellen O'Connell, two children, Kim O'Connell of Las Cruces, NM and Daniel (Honna) O'Connell of Ft. Collins, Colorado, a sister, Doreen (Ed) Schissel of Albuquerque, NM and brother, Rick (Diane) O'Connell of Louisville, Colorado as well as by four grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Cremation has taken place and a celebration of his life will be held at a later date when the community and family can gather safely.

Entrusted to the care of Baca's Funeral Chapels and Mimbres Crematory. Exclusive provider for "Veterans & Family Memorial Care". To sign the online guest book or to send a card, please visit our website at www.bacasfuneralchapels.com.

811 S. Gold Ave., Deming, NM 88030. Phone: 575.546.9671

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Las Cruces Sun News from Nov. 2 to Nov. 3, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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2 entries
November 4, 2020
Great Picture, Doc. You surely will be missed for all the many things you did for everyone else! Especially, my hug every Thursday afternoon before Rotary. Will remember you and the blessing that I was able to be a small part of your life.
Micki Shillito
November 3, 2020
Doc was my dentist for many years while I was in Deming and he will be truly missed not only as a dentist but as a friend.
James Metz Sr
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