Debra Hannon O’Connell

A photo of Debra O'Connell

Debra Hannon O’Connell, age 68, died peacefully in her Madison, WI home surrounded by her family on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

She is survived by her husband of 37 years, Daniel O’Connell; her three children, Patrick O’Connell (Meghan), Lindsay Gant (Michael), and John O’Connell (Christin); and her parents, Kenneth and Thelma Hannon. She is further survived by her sister-in-law, Kathleen O’Connell; her brothers-in-law, Dennis O’Connell and Patrick (Kathryn) O’Connell as well as nephews Brennan O’Connell, Ryan O’Connell, Daniel O’Connell, and her niece Caitlin O’Connell. She is additionally survived by her aunts and uncles, Donald and Joanne Hannon, and Gene and Joan Wolfarth as well as many cousins. She was preceded in death by her brother David Hannon and her sister Judith Hannon.

Debra, fondly known as Deb or Debby, was born in Green Bay, WI on December 18, 1951. At an early age, she and her family moved to Richland Center, WI where she quickly made many lifelong friends. She graduated from Richland Center High School in 1970 and later from Western Wisconsin Technical Institute in LaCrosse. After college, Deb moved to Madison and began employment with the State of Wisconsin and early in her career transitioned to the University of Wisconsin, School of Social Work.

For more than 40 years at UW, she worked as a program administrator, led the graduate admissions process, and created strong working relationships and friendships with many colleagues throughout the university, many of which she maintained after retirement. Madison quickly became home to Deb where she met her future husband, Dan, and raised her three children. Deb was the center of creating a wonderful family atmosphere at their homes. In the early years on Hempstead Road and for many years on Maple Run Drive, family and friends were always welcomed.

Deb was a fiercely devoted daughter, wife, mother, and sister-in-law. She dedicated much of her life to ensure the happiness and well-being of her children and family. Her proudest moments involved her children. When not cheering them on from the sidelines, Deb enjoyed traveling the globe with trips to Europe and many trips to Door County and Florida. She supported the Packers and Badgers and would frequently attend many sporting events with her trip to the 1994 Rose Bowl as the highlight of them.

Deb also had many other hobbies. Whether staying in to enjoy a good book, watching one of her favorite shows, or grabbing a bite and catching the latest flick on the big screen, Deb never missed an opportunity to relax and enjoy many forms of entertainment. Some of Deb’s fondest memories included the many vacation trips to Ireland, France, and the beaches of Florida. She loved lunches and shopping dates with both her childhood and Madison friends as well as her beloved family members. Deb also cherished special occasions including birthday dinners at Delaney’s, Christmas celebrations at her home, Thanksgivings on the family farm, and countless outings and reunions with both the Hannon and O’Connell families. Deb valued her many friendships and always went above and beyond to stay in touch. She particularly valued the many trips and reunions she had with her childhood and high school friends. Deb was also a lover of dogs and cats. In particular, she loved being surrounded by her own pets, and later in life, her grand-puppies.

Deb will be missed by many. She will live on in the countless memories everyone shares. Her laughter, love, and passion for life will always be remembered.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at ST. MARIA GORETTI CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5313 Flad Ave., Madison with Father Bill Van Wagner presiding. A visitation will precede the Mass from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. at church and also Friday evening, January 10, 2020, at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Burial will follow Mass on Saturday at Sunset Memory Gardens followed by a luncheon at church.

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