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1010 S. White Street
P.O. Box 99
ATHENS, TN 37371-0099
Phone: 423-745-3013
Fax: 423-745-7733
Helen O'Donnell
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Smith Funeral & Cremation Services of Athens
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Obituary for Helen Marie O'Donnell (Hoogland)

Helen Marie Hoogland O'Donnell, 80, of Athens, died Tuesday night, November 27, 2018 at Life Care Center of Athens.
"Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect."-Samuel Johnson.
If there's one defining characteristic of Helen Marie Hoogland O'Donnell's life, it is curiosity. Helen never lost the ability to seek out new experiences and learn new things, laughing and humming all the way. She was born December 24, 1937 and was the fourth child born into a family that would eventually have eight children. She grew up in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, a Dutch community, and attended St. Willibrord's for grammar school and high school. Helen loved her seven siblings, and often told stories of the mischief their curiosity brought them, including each of them competing to be the first to cram their fingers into a fresh jar of peanut butter to "claim" the whole jar. (She discouraged this competition in her own children.)
"The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds."- Anatole France
At 16, Helen entered the Chicago Teacher's College, and worked toward a degree in education. She started out as a Home Economics teacher in the Morgan Park neighborhood of Chicago (which was ironic, considering later she'd have an Erma Bombeck quote on her refrigerator of many years: "A clean home is the sign of misspent life.") Helen shared her curious nature with elementary and middle school students for over 35 years, including many years at Athens Junior High School. Many of her former students remember her for her love of art history and her impressive use of puns.
"Never lose a holy curiosity."-Albert Einstein
Helen loved travelling, and visited Italy, England, France, Ireland, and Egypt, among many other places. She always wanted her travelling companions to stand in front of the landmark she was photographing. "Or else it's just a post card!." She adored board games, and seemingly had every answer in the orginal Trivial Pursuit deck memorized. She and her sister-in-law once tried out for Jeopardy!, and laughed about their screen tests for years. Helen loved classical music and often hummed as she worked, and she adored art museums, cathedrals, and historical sites. She volunteered for Meals on Wheels and was an active and faithful member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Athens for 50 years, serving on the building fund committee to help design and build the church at its current location.
"First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity." George Bernard Shaw Helen met Jack O'Donnell on a blind date when she was 22 years old. She came
home that evening and woke up her mother (also named Helen) saying, "I met the man I'm going to marry."
Helen is survived by her husband of 58 years, Jack, her three daughters, Kathy (Jordan), Cory, and Kristi (Byron), and six grandchildren. When she first learned she'd become a grandmother, she exclaimed, "I want to be the one to teach them to spit watermelon seeds." It was the perfect mix of her personality: a heavy dose of silly with an undercurrent of teaching and learning. Her family envisions her entering eternal life humming with excitement and brimming with curiosity, just as she lived here.
Helen's family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be sent to St. Mary's Catholic Church Building Fund, 1291 E. Madison Avenue in Athens, https://www.stmaryathenstn.org; or Meals on Wheels through the McMinn Senior Activity Center, 205 McMinn Avenue, Athens, http://www.mcminnseniors.com.
A memorial mass will be held December 10th at 11am at St. Mary's Catholic Church, with a luncheon immediately following. Friends will be received in the Narthex of the church at 10 am prior to the memorial mass.

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