Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, on June 2, 1931, William “Bill” James O’Donnell Jr. was the second child of William James O’Donnell Sr. and his wife Edna May.
Bill spent most of his first 62 years living and making life experiences in Dover, Idaho. Bill’s many cherished and life-long friendships were cultivated in the Dover community, which he shared with his sisters Lois and Marjory, brother Larry, cousin Norma Jean, and parents. Life held many adventures.
Bill’s education started in a small school located in Dover. Grades first through six were spent at that small school, and in 1940, Bill advanced from third grade to fifth, continuing his education in Dover. When he reached the seventh through eighth grade years, he transferred to the Farmin school in Sandpoint.
Bill attended high school in Sandpoint and graduated in 1948 at age 16. It was during those years in high school that Bill met Lesley Marleen Mooney, the girl who later in life would become his wife and forever love.
The early years of Bill’s life were spent camping, hunting, fishing, and roaming the nearby mountains with his friends and family. Often the family would spend summers living in different logging camps where his father worked. Bill loved the outdoors and related activities all his life.
Because they were not of age, Bill and good friend Bob Becker lied about their ages so they could work for the Forest Service in a CC camp put in place after World War II, which helped control the “blister rust” problem in the forest.
Early in his life, Bill was hooked on fishing along with good friends Jack Ames and Bob Becker. In fact, Bob Becker saved Bill’s life on two separate occasions while fishing because Bill couldn’t swim, and he had fallen into the beaver pond/slough. Bob jumped in and pulled Bill to safety.
Due to his young age, Bill couldn’t get a job at the local lumber mills after graduating, so he accepted a job as a grave digger for Bud Moon at Moon’s Chapel, digging by hand, graves at the local cemeteries.
Upon turning 18, Bill obtained employment at Pack River Lumber Company. He was employed as a carrier operator 25 years. Bill was an active member of the International Woodworkers of America Union from 1949 to 1974. He was shop steward at Pack River Lumber Company, being very active in the dealings with the company by representing the labor force. From those learning experiences, the state of Idaho offered Bill a job as a compliance officer for the state. He accepted the position and the remainder of his career was spent working for the state until his retirement in 1993.
In 1950, Bill started his courtship with Marleen Mooney. They married in 1952 and were blessed with two daughters, Jackie and Billie/Peanut. Bill and Marleen enjoyed raising their girls and later Bill’s stepson Alan Kohal joined the family.
Fishing, camping, huckleberry picking, gathering firewood for winter and so many other experiences were shared. Bill was passionate about all his family and his actions conveyed this.
Bill enjoyed playing softball, and probably would have continued to play for more than the 25 years he did, but a broken ankle ended that activity. Bill played basketball for the Methodist basketball team when he was in his 40s and 50s. He enjoyed many other sports.
Being a “Lunch Pail” Democrat, Bill held the Bonner County Democratic Central Committee position of chairman for five years. He remained active in the party for many years. Because he felt a strong sense of social obligation to serve or help neighbors and friends, Bill worked to help create the Rocky Point Sewer District, the new Dover Water System, and was a volunteer fireman. Bill served as the first official mayor of Dover. He was a lifetime member of the Sandpoint United Methodist Church, where he served in many capacities for the church and God.
Just prior to retiring in 1993, Bill and Marleen moved to their home on Jewel Lake Road in the Sagle area, and was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Bill enjoyed living rurally but always kept a special place in his heart for Dover and the very special people in his life who lived there.
Bill was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and so much more to all of us he leaves behind. Bill’s unexpected departure will leave a big void and he will be extremely missed by all. We love you, Papa! You were the best ever!
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, William and Edna; a sister, Lois Rockwell; a brother, Larry O’Donnell; stepson Alan Kohal; sister in-law Sharon Bistline; brothers-in-law, Gary Mooney and Harry Hulquist. Surviving are his wife of 67 years, Marleen (Lesley); two daughters, Jackie (husband Jerry) Kennedy, and Billie/Peanut (husband Robert) Alderman; sister, Marjory Hulquist; brother in-law Darrel (wife Roseann) Mooney; sister in-law Chieko Mooney; honorary brother and sister, Chuck and Sally Heath; extended family, Tooter and Elaine Hays; grandchildren Stephanie (husband Alvin) Rief-Brown, Roberta (husband Ben) Cestnik, Jenny (husband Doug) Brown, David Alderman, Missy Alderman, Angela, (husband Levi) Shoolroy, Tim (wife Sarah) Kohal, and Matt Kohal; daughter-in-law Monica/Nicki Kohal: and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A viewing will be offered from 2-5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, at Coffelt’s Funeral Chapel. Funeral services will follow on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, at 2 p.m. at Coffelt’s Funeral Chapel with potluck gathering to follow the service at the VFW Hall.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Bill’s name be given to Sandpoint’s local chapter of the Parkinson’s Association Power PAC, PO Box 131, Sandpoint, ID 83864.
Bill’s family wishes to offer special thanks to all care providers and individuals that helped make Bill’s life a nicer place to live. We especially appreciate Paige Russell, Tom and Amy Seastone, Jaime Mark, Homer Coleman, and the Rock Steady Boxing individuals.