James H. O’Connell of Bayberry Lane on North Haven, who appeared in numerous community theater productions and was an active member of the Sag Harbor Knights of Columbus and a lector at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Sag Harbor, died of pneumonia at Southampton Hospital on New Year’s Day. He was 99.
Mr. O’Connell had retired from Met Life in 1978, where he had a 44-year career as an underwriter and in marketing.
A 75-year member of the Knights of Columbus, he joined the order in 1937 in Manhattan. He served as the grand knight of the group’s Salve Regina Council twice — in the 1940s and again in the 1970s. He also served as a Knights of Columbus district deputy in Manhattan in the 1940s, and as chairman of the lecturer’s bureau for the group’s state chapter in the early 1960s.
He married the former Veronica Margaret Lynch on July 2, 1955. The couple lived in New York City. They first visited North Haven for a family vacation in 1959. They eventually bought a house there, and moved there permanently after Mr. O’Connell’s retirement in 1979. Mrs. O’Connell died in 2009.
Mr. O’Connell was a gifted orator, his family said, and had an extensive career in public speaking and community theater, both in New York City and on eastern Long Island, his family said. In the 1980s he appeared in productions locally of “Harvey” with the Spindrift Players and of “Ten Little Indians” with the Maidstone Regional Theatre Company.
Mr. O’Connell is survived by two daughters, Margaret O’Connell of New York and Marie Bonkowski of New York and Washington, D.C.
A wake was held at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in Sag Harbor on Jan. 6. A funeral service took place at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, also in Sag Harbor, on Jan. 7, the Rev. Peter Devaraj presiding. He was assisted by the Rev. Andrew Blake, a retired priest from St. Andrew’s. Burial followed at the church cemetery in Sag Harbor.
Memorial contributions have been suggested to the Knights of Columbus Sag Harbor Council, P.O. Box 707, Sag Harbor 11963, or to St. Andrew’s Parish, 122 Division Street, Sag Harbor.