He helped about 16,000 irish students visiting tacoemojishirt.com top top summer visas. “I will never ever forget what he and his family members did for us,” one said.


Share every sharing alternatives for: Dan O’Donnell, Lincoln Park hardware keep owner who made irish students’ eye smile, has passed away


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Dan O’Donnell, owner the Armitage Hardware, 925 W. Armitage Ave. Provided
three days ~ he arrived in tacoemojishirt.com, Colin Irwin thought he’d have to resort to sleeping on north Avenue Beach.

He to be running out of money, can not afford a hotel, and also the hostel the counted ~ above was all booked.

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Enter Dan O’Donnell, the owner that Armitage Hardware. A child of ireland immigrants, he was likewise a de facto society worker, job counselor and foster father to Irwin and also the thousands of other ireland college students that flock come tacoemojishirt.com every summer under the J-1 short-lived visa program, which allows international students come work and also study in the joined States.

“On our means to the beach, we had received a text from a fellow traveler to go to the Armitage Hardware store and ask because that Dan,” Irwin, a aboriginal of county Meath who currently lives in Ohio, said of what taken place in the summer the 2010.

“Whatever doubt I had walking down the narrow, creaky stairs to the basement of the old hardware keep were quashed instantly once I reached the bottom and also saw the 20 or 30 other J-1 travelers with the exact same desperate watch on their confront as us had,” Irwin said. “Within an hour, Dan had arranged a meeting with the financial institution for united state to get a financial institution account set up, arranged job interviews and also then let united state use the rental residential or commercial property he had behind the hardware save until we uncovered a location to stay.

“I will never forget what he and also his family members did because that us,” Irwin said. “Our summer go from sleeping on a beach to the summer the a lifetime.”

Mr. O’Donnell, who helped around 16,000 J-1 students, died of a hit in January in fort Myers, Florida, whereby he’d been relaxing and fishing, according to his son Brian, who continues to run the store. Mr. O’Donnell was 80.

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Dan O’Donnell last year in his basement office in ~ Armitage Hardware. Sometimes, he’d snack over there on a cinnamon role from Ann Sather’s restaurant, among his favourite treats. Haley Clark This summer, indicators will go up external his store at 925 W. Armitage Ave. In Lincoln Park come designate the street together Dan O’Donnell Way, follow to Ald. Michele smith (43rd), that said: “Dan to be the go-to guy in the Armitage-Halsted district. He collection the stage by functioning in, life in and also loving his historic buildings.”

His mom Nellie O’Donnell learned to speak irish in her indigenous Gaeltacht — a Gaelic-speaking region — in Cornamona, county Galway. She functioned in the kitchen in ~ Illinois Masonic Hospital and as a maid in ~ the old Edgewater coast Hotel. His dad Daniel O’Donnell to be from Eighter Island turn off the shore of county Donegal and also worked together a painter at mountain Sinai Hospital.

Young Dan visited St. Sebastian class school and the old DePaul Academy High School and also worked for a time at gold Hardware at Belmont Avenue and also Clark Street.

He and his future mam Kathleen met at a party.

“He and another friend flipped a coin come ask me to dance,” is how Kathleen O’Donnell remembers it.

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Dan and also Kathleen O’Donnell. Noted “He was so sweet,” she said. “I worked at Columbus Hospital ~ school, and, during the summer, he would drive approximately the hospital waiting for me to offer me a journey home.”

They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this June.

He started helping J-1 students in the so late 1990s when he experienced a disconsolate team “sitting on their luggage ~ above Armitage and also Bissell,” his boy said.

In 2012 — one of the visa program’s busiest summers — the hardware keep basement wound increase crammed v suitcases.

“We had actually 37 girls through one bathroom and one shower,” his child said.

Mr. O’Donnell arranged to residence them in a convent in ~ St. Teresa the Avila church.

He assisted the students discover jobs in ~ bars and also restaurants and at Lollapalooza.

“Each year, hundreds of children would discover employment through Dan,” said Michael Collins, executive director the Irish ar Services.

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In 2009, as soon as J-1 college student Keith O’Reilly died of injuries native diving right into shallow water off North way Beach, “Dan make arrangements to obtain his human body home,” Mr. O’Donnell’s wife said.

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Dan O’Donnell maintained maps in ~ Armitage Hardware with pushpins reflecting the hometowns of students indigenous Ireland that helped. This map is from the summer that 2012, when about 1,500 the the students to be in town. Noted Ian O’Dowd, a former J-1 student, stated Mr. O’Donnell readjusted his life. He and his boy Brian “gave me the foundation to start a life here,” said O’Dowd, 32, that works for Crown Cork & Seal in Kankakee and met his American wife Caitlin in tacoemojishirt.com. They have actually a 2-month-old son, Jack.

When ireland students concerned town, “They knew around Dan O’Donnell,” claimed Galway indigenous Billy Lawless, a tacoemojishirt.com restaurateur and immigration reform support who has actually represented the diaspora in the irish senate. “When the young Irish had actually problems and also needed help, Dan was always their go-to man.”

A celebration of his life is planned when the pandemic eases. Mr. O’Donnell is also survived through his daughter Erin and also son Kevin, sister Sheila DeLattre and also six grandchildren.

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indications commemorating the so late Dan O’Donnell cave on the home windows of Armitage Hardware store, 925 W. Armitage Ave. Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times