Cover photo for Kathleen A. O'Connell's Obituary
Kathleen A. O'Connell Profile Photo
1962 Kathleen 2024

Kathleen A. O'Connell

December 14, 1962 — February 24, 2024


Kathleen “Kathy” O’Connell (“KO” to many) passed away on February 24th, 2024 at her home in Madison, Wisconsin at the age of 61. She was born in Houston, Texas and was the first child of Dorothy Frye O’Connell and William O’Connell. She was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse where she completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education and a Master of Science Degree in Human Performance and Motor Learning. She held a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Kathy spent the last 8 years working as a consultant in the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. This position allowed her to bring her cumulative experiences in teaching and curriculum development to assist instructors in course design and teaching strategies. Her colleagues described her approach as “holistic” and also noted that, “she knew how to demonstrate care, concern, and compassion when working with others and they trusted her because of this. The passion she brought to work every day made solving difficult challenges fun; she had something in her ‘toolbox’ to address any situation.  Her thinking and her approaches to work were grounded in the research as well as the realities of making human connections.”  Connecting with people in an authentic, compassionate, and curious manner was an essential part of who Kathy was at work and in her daily life. We will miss all these things and more. Her beautiful smile. That amused twinkle in her eye. Her caring. Her wisdom. We will miss being heard and being loved by Kathy.

Kathy also cherished the “Thanksgiving Crew” which was lovingly hosted every year by her cousin Nema, her husband Bob and daughter Michaela.  For almost 30 years, she and Gemma would gather with members of the Frye family along with extended family and friends for a week of cooking, eating, and laughing…so much laughing. It was Kathy’s favorite holiday celebration.

Kathy is survived by her wife Gemma Gliori, her brother Timothy O’Connell (Julie O’Connell), niece Hannah O’Connell, nephew Benjamin O’Connell, many beloved cousins, and in-laws (Glioris and Merritheys).  

Kathy loved to scuba dive which is why she requested that, in lieu of flowers, people consider a donation to Mission Blue (Syliva Earle Alliance) at

Cress Sun Prairie


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