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James Sheridan O'Connell

January 15, 1932 ~ January 24, 2023 (age 91) 91 Years Old
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Obituary

James Sheridan O'Connell, of Gaithersburg MD and Myrtle Beach SC, passed away peacefully on January 24, 2023 at his home in SC after a decades long battle with dementia.  He was 91 years of age.

Jim was born in Chicago, IL in 1932.  His parents were Helen  (Haney) and Joseph O'Connell.  He had one sister, Maureen Finn.  His first marriage to Audree Simer ended in divorce.

After graduating with a PhD in physics from the University of Illinois in 1961 Jim enjoyed a 26-year long career as a research nuclear physicist at the NIST (National Institute of Science and Technology, formerly the National Bureau of Standards) where he led and collaborated with international teams of physicists, mentored a number of graduate students and published over 50 papers.  He spent sabbatical years at the Stanford University Linear Accelerator Laboratory, CERN Laboratory, Aspen Center for Physics, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Bates Laboratory at MIT.  He also was instrumental in establishing the Lewes Center for Physics in Lewes DE and the Jefferson Accelerator Laboratory in Newport News VA.  In 1983 Jim was awarded a bronze service medal for superior federal service.

In semi retirement, Jim worked at Booz, Allen and Hamilton and at American Institutes for Research in Washington DC.   He also taught physical science courses (chemistry, astronomy, geology and weather) at Frederick Community College in Frederick MD.  Jim was an advocate of community colleges, believing in a “second chance” for talented students who had had difficulties in early education. In 2009 Jim was invited to be a member of the Oxford Round Table where he gave a talk on interdisciplinary studies.

In addition to his love of physics, Jim enjoyed a wide variety of interests,  He  was an avid reader.  He enjoyed “rough carpentry” in his workshop.  He loved the adventure of traveling, boating and sailing, and being at the beach.  After his divorce he taught himself to cook, and he became an accomplished chef.

Jim and his wife Julie celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in September 2022.

Jim is predeceased by his sister Maureen and his first wife Audree.

Jim is survived by his wife, Julie, three children, Daniel, Erin (Marianne) and Brian (Tracie) and six grandchildren, Andy, Taylor, Kaylie, Alex, James II and Lindy Grace.

A memorial service is planned for early June 2023 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Surfside, SC.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make a contribution to a charity of your choice.

To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.


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In Loving Memory Of

James O'Connell

January 15, 1932-January 24, 2023




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In Loving Memory Of

James O'Connell

January 15, 1932-January 24, 2023




Look inside to read what others have shared


Family and friends are coming together online to create a special keepsake. Every memory left on the online obituary will be automatically included in the book.   


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