Mr. Donal O'Connor
August 03, 2012
Donal J. O'Connor
Donal J. O’Connor, 93, passed away August 3, 2012 in Montrose, Colorado. He was born in South Bend, Indiana, the second of seven children of Vincent L. O’Connor and Nellie Barton O’Connor, who had immigrated from County Kerry, Ireland.
Donal was a packaging engineer for Morton Salt Company for 30 years. His innovative, award winning designs streamlined the manufacture and delivery of salt from warehouse to tabletop. His simple yet elegant disposable plastic salt and pepper shakers are commonly seen at fast food restaurants and institutions nationwide.
Don’s professional achievements include a high speed packaging process that could form, fill and seal 4,000 packages per minute. He designed a single portion package - a paper-backed bubble with a bend-back corner - that was used by the airline industry for years. He designed and manufactured the shaking spout on the 26 ounce salt can, miniature salt and pepper shakers, a salt tablet dispenser, “Rainfresh” water filters, and an award-winning condiment display rack.
Don’s quest for innovative packaging introduced him to manufacturing companies willing to produce his designs. The partnership contributed to the success of those firms and a lifelong friendship with the owners.
Don was an international authority on the multiwall bag. For ten years he was a guest lecturer at the University of Wisconsin’ seminars on packaging. He held seven patents, for which he was compensated “$1.00, plus other valuable considerations”. He was a member of the Chicago Chapter of the Packaging Institute and an honorary lifetime member of the Institute of Packaging Professionals. Upon retirement he completed the necessary requirements to become a Certified Packaging Professional.
A World War II veteran (1942-1945), Donal served with the 346th Signal Company Wing. He installed and maintained longline telephone and teletype equipment that forwarded and scrambled communications from radar, radio, and landlines in the field to command centers. He served in Africa, Italy, France and Germany. His participation in the D-Day landing in southern France was crucial to the communications between the men on the ground and the command ship USS Catoctin. He returned from the War in 1945 on the SS Marine Angel. Several years later, from the window of his Morton Salt building, Don saw the Marine Angel navigating the Chicago River. When he was 85 and again for his 90th birthday, he returned to France with other U.S. veterans to visit the battlefields and share recognition from the French people for the American efforts in the liberation of France.
After the war, Don completed his education, receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Chicago Teacher’s College, now Northeastern Illinois University.
Don was an usher (one of Fr. James Keane’s “Boys in Blue” - blue coats, white slacks) at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica in Chicago. The Usher’s Club sponsored dances at the Medinah Club in the Tribune Tower. It was there he met his future wife, Rose Ann Luetmer. They married in 1950. They resided for 48 years on Chicago’s north side, in Queen of All Saints parish, where he also ushered, before moving to Normal, Illinois in 1999. Rose Ann passed away there in 2000.
He especially enjoyed his annual trips to visit Rose Ann’s family in Minnesota and fishing trips along the Canadian border. He was a lifelong golfer, beginning his career as a caddy at age eleven. His earnings contributed to the family finances during the Depression.
Don made friends wherever he was including his neighbors in Chicago and while in Normal he formed new and deep bonds with individuals he met there.
He enjoyed traveling in his 80’s to Ireland with his grandson Glenn and visiting the sights of the West with his daughters and their husbands, as well as his twin granddaughters, Erin and Carrie. He was always willing to lend a helping hand to his family as they established their lives. His most recent trip was to Colorado, where he died peacefully in his sleep. He left this world with plans to return to France, market his latest invention and purchase another car.
The family is grateful to Dr. Witoon Wera of Illinois Heart and Lung Associates for his expert care and friendship, which added many years to Donal's life.
Loving husband of the late Rose Ann, nee Luetmer. Beloved father of Eileen (John) Kaser, Patty (Bill) Graham, Mary Joan (Steve) Fechner and the late Donal, Jr. Cherished grandfather of Dr. Glenn (Dr. Erin Murphy) Wera, Leah Weraarchakul, Erin (Ronald) Romero, and Carolyn (Ryan Reineke) Kaser and; Dear great-grandfather of Aria Romero and Madeline Wera; Fond Brother of Sr. Ann Kevin O’Connor SP, Maurice O’Connor, and the late Edward O'Connor, Elizabeth Bastien, Mary Kilbridge and Sr. Margaret Ellen O’Connor, SP; Devoted uncle of many nieces and nephews.
Funeral Service Saturday, August 18, 2012 9:30AM from Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home, 6150 N. Cicero Ave., to Queen of All Saints Basilica for Mass at 10:00 AM. Interment Queen of Heaven Cemetery. Visitation Friday 6-8 PM.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to: Sisters of Providence, St. Mary of the Woods, IN 47876.
Visitation: Map to Cicero Ave Chapel
Service: Queen of All Saints Basilica
Cemetery: Map to Queen of Heaven Cemetery