Coonrod Funeral Home
107 East Cross Street
Winchester, IL

George O'Donnell

WINCHESTER - George O'Donnell, 83, formerly of Winchester, IL passed away peacefully at Regency Nursing Center in Springfield, IL on December 19, 2012. He was the son of Dana and Gertrude O'Donnell of rural Winchester. He is preceded in death by his wife Marianne (Freidl), parents, sisters Emily, Agnes Ann, Regina, Marcella and brother Patrick.

He is survived by; two sons Chris (Teresa Adams) and Dennis (Susan) of Springfield; grandchildren John, Ryan, Aimee and Brady; sisters Margaret, Lorraine, Mary Lou, Virginia, and Janice; brothers Jim, Joe and Emmett.

An outstanding pitcher in high school baseball, his father sent him to a training camp in 1948 and then he signed with the St. Louis Browns. His professional career began the next year with the Olean Oilers in the state of New York and followed with teams in Mayfield KY, Appleton WI, Waco TX, Charleston SC, New Orleans LA and in Hollywood CA. Known for his knuckleball, he was brought up into the majors in 1954 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Following the Pirates he went on to play in Hollywood CA, Columbus OH, Salt Lake City UT, Spokane WA and Syracuse NY.

His achievements included posting 22 wins with the 1951 Waco Pirates, 20 wins in 1953 Hollywood Stars in which he was name the Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year and to the PCL All-Star Team. During some winters, he played in Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. He was a member of the St. Louis Browns, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Senators organizations.

Upon retirement from baseball in 1961, he moved back to central Illinois and worked for area farmers, married his Columbus German Sweetheart, Marianne Freidl and started a family. Employed by the Illinois Secretary of State as Chief Hearing Officer, he raised his sons and even coached a summer girls softball team. He retired in 1991 and enjoyed small town life in Winchester following various sports teams. A gentle and kind man, he loved reminiscing about his career in baseball with the great players of the era as his teammates or foes. After moving to Springfield in 2002, he continued to follow Winchester teams as well as his grandchildren and great nephews participating on Pleasant Plains and Springfield teams. He was also known for his weekly Friday routine of traveling to Winchester to "visit with the boys." He had many friends and will be sorely missed.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 am Monday December 24, 2012 at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Winchester. Burial will be in St. Mark's Cemetery in Winchester. The family will meet with friends from 3 until 6 pm Sunday at the Coonrod Funeral Home in Winchester. A prayer service will be held at 3 pm. Memorials can be made to St. Mark's Alter Society or the West Central Sports Boosters.

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Published by The State Journal-Register from Dec. 22 to Dec. 23, 2012.
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12 Entries
George was my first boss when I started to work for the state in 1968. I had just graduated from high school the night before when I came to work there. After college I came back to that division and worked for George for the next 6 years - I was so lucky to have him for my first boss. He certainly set the bar high for all those to follow. I ran into him a couple of years ago at Red Lobster and he seemed his usual perky self. A whole lifetime has passed since I met him and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him. To his sons, your father was a fine man who was respected and liked by many people.
Gloria Huston
December 31, 2012
We truly enjoyed going to church with Virginia and George. We usually followed it up with a little breakfast. George was a pleasure to be around, and we cherish the baseball cards he shared with our family.He was definitely a man of integrity.He will be missed.
Karen and Mike Coughlin
December 25, 2012
Uncle George will be missed. Blessings to his family.
Patti Lease
December 24, 2012
O'Donnel Family,
I am sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Jenny Mann
December 23, 2012
Like Rose, I was always proud he was my uncle. One would be hard pressed to find anyone nicer.
Winnie Lipp
December 23, 2012
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Anthony Cherry
December 22, 2012
We will dearly miss seeing Uncle George at church and at ballgames. He was a great man and genuinely nice person. He was very good to my boys and made quite an impression on them.
Maureen Minder
December 22, 2012
I had the please of meeting this wonderful man when he was a hearing officer with the Secretary of State Office, he was always so helpful with any problem you might have, will never forget this great man. With deepest sympathy.
Sharon (McDonnough) James
December 22, 2012
So sorry for your loss.
Becky Shown
December 22, 2012
I was always proud to call him my uncle, he was a loving generous man.
Rose Ponczak
December 22, 2012
He was a great guy, worked with him when he drove a bus. Was outstanding person with the kids. He will be greatly missed. Sorry for your lost.
Bonnie Summers
December 22, 2012
we are so sorry to hear about George,he was greatly loved by all who knew him...
Hawkins Family
December 22, 2012
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