A former president of Bellevue College, known then as Bellevue Community College, Thomas E. O'Connell, died on October 20th in Seattle, after a long illness. He was 90 years old. He was born on June 30, 1925 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He served as a bombadier-navigator in the Air Force's 338thBomb Squadron of the 96th Bomb Group in Europe in World War II.
He attended Dartmouth College on the GI Bill. In Caracas, Venezuela O’Connell met Anne Ludlum, the step-daughter of a U. S. Foreign Service officer. They married in 1950. In 1960 he became the founding president of the first state-supported community college in Massachusetts: Berkshire Community College. He led the college as it grew from a fledgling institution in a former high school building into a vibrant college serving a cosmopolitan student body in a multi-building campus. O’Connell served as president of Bellevue College from 1977 to 1981. He continued at the college, teaching Spanish and speech, until 1988. O'Connell was a life-long actor, active in Seattle-area theater. He was a birder and a sound golfer, playing until he was almost 90. He is survived by his wife, Anne Ludlum; daughters Deirdre and Mary O’Connell; son, Thomas J. O’Connell; grandson, Frank Cox-O’Connell. Donations may be made in Dr. O'Connell's memory to the Berkshire Community College Foundation, 1350 West Street, Pittsfield MA 01201. A memorial will be held in Seattle for friends and family.