John James O’Donnell passed away peacefully on Monday afternoon, July 22, 2019. The Cottonwood-based teacher and coach, community and political activist, was 78. John was an English teacher at Mingus Union High School for 30 years, leaving in 1997. John cited Phoenix as his home town, and maintained a second residence here in Cottonwood.
One of Arizona’s premier running coaches, John O’Donnell directed young runners on the Mingus Union Track and Field teams and the Boys Cross Country teams. He was a strong advocate for the scholar-athlete concept, and awarded the students he mentored with innovative types of recognition beyond just medals for their running accolades.
A gentle soul, lover and rescuer of Catahoula’s, John will be fondly remembered for connecting loving owners with dogs needing homes, nurturance, and compassion.
On the Clarkdale Town Council from 1982-1986, John also served on numerous boards and commissions; including, but not limited to, the Verde Valley Fair Board, The Mingus Connection and Mingus Foundation, Verde River Valley Nature Organization, and Arizona state juries. John also served as Mingus Union Education Association President, and held numerous additional offices over his career. He volunteered at various organizational levels of the Arizona Democratic Party,registering voters, and even making a run for the Arizona State Senate in 2004.
He is survived by wife, Deanna E. O’Donnell, and son, Sean; his sister Mary Alice (O’Donnell) Dyess; and nieces: Jill Bachali, Jennifer Spezzo, Carla England, and Cris Costigan.
Please come and celebrate the grace of this good man’s life on Thursday, August 1, 2019 at 5:00 pm in the cafeteria of Mingus Union High School.
To send flowers to the family of John O'Donnell, please visit Tribute Store
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