UPDATED: Our Readers Remember Police Chief O'Connell

O'Connell died Wednesday following heart surgery. Here's how our readers remember him.

"Ar dhéis Dé ar a anam," reader Lisa O'Flaherty wrote about late Tinley Park Police Chief Mike O'Connell. May his soul be on God's right side.

Throughout the day yesterday, our readers shared their memories of O'Connell, Tinley Park's police chief since 1995. .

Click here to read O'Connell's obituary.

"He was a great neighbor and a true Irish gentleman," O'Flaherty wrote on behalf of the whole O'Flaherty family.

On our Facebook page, Maureen Reilly Rolniak wrote about first meeting O'Connell when she was growing up in Riverdale. O'Connell started his law enforcement career as a patrol officer there, working his way up to police chief.

"What a great man. Mike, you will be missed," Rolniak wrote.

Reader "Carol De" wrote about what she'll miss about O'Connell.

"Not only was the chief a great leader, he was a great person who cared about everything he touched," she wrote. "He was a real person and very loved by those that knew him. I will miss his bear hug and great smile. May he be at peace now, knowing his job was so well done."

Other readers shared other memories, as well as sending their condolences and prayers to O'Connell's family, the village and the Tinley Park Police Department.

Perhaps the simplest and truest words came from Kelly Carey Gee on our Facebook page.

"You will be missed by many."

Updated at 5:14 p.m. with link to obituary.

mary barker May 12, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Mike O'Connell has been a friend for over 40 years. He stood up in my wedding. He was always there when someone needed him. He was a wonderful man. He always made people smile, always had a joke to tell, and when he hugged you, you knew you were if "good hands". His presence will be missed by all. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Barb and his family.
OLY May 12, 2011 at 04:58 PM
I've had the honor of knowing "Big Mike" for many years. He was a wonderful, kind gentle giant. With an equally wonderful family. I'm sure the Good Lord has a great fishing spot reserved for him.
Pam May 12, 2011 at 05:35 PM
we worked Security together at Sears in River Oaks for a few years, Mike was a wonderful person and always joking around. We miss you Mike, Pam D Sears LP
Rich Piatchek May 13, 2011 at 02:48 AM
Mike was a great guy who loved to prank his friends. I must have been a good friend because he got me several times. In all of my interaction whether personal or professional, he was a class act. I am a better person because I knew him. He loved life and always put his family first. He will be missed by many but not forgotten by anyone he met. Rest in peace, my friend.
Lois Fuentes May 13, 2011 at 03:44 PM
Yes, Mike was a big man. No matter where he was or how busy he was he would acknowledge you woth a look or a funny remark that would make you smile. He was involved in so many things and showed he really cared. We were blessed to have him in the community and as a friend. Our condolences to his family and may God hold you in the palm of his hand. He will be greatly missed.
Deb Melchert May 13, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Mike had a sense of humor as big as he was. Anyone that knew him, knows that he was as proud of his Irish heritage as I am of my Italian roots. We had a running "battle" over the years. I used to tell him "Mike, your enormous and you've got a huge family, are you sure you're not Italian? Look in the mirror, a bigger nose and you could star in the Soprano's" He'd laugh, shake his head and tell me, "Deb, I know where you live and I know what car you drive. Because I'm the Chief doesn't mean I don't carry a ticket book"! Or I'd get an invite for a tour of lock up with Mike as my guide. What a guy!
Sandy SUndram May 14, 2011 at 12:35 AM
To Mike: I will sorely miss you more than you will know. For your larger than life persona, for the always happy disposition, for the strength of character, for the empathy that we shared and most of all, just the pure friendship that you generously gave to all of us - thank you. We may have lost this most recent battle - but you won, a long time ago, the larger war of a worthwhile lifetime of work and family that so many would do well to emulate. Rest assured that for your lovely family that I have recently come to know - I will be there anytime they need me. "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched ... but are felt in the heart"- goodbye and godspeed - your spirit lives with us. Your friend - Sandy Sundram
Deb Melchert May 14, 2011 at 04:48 AM
Oh my Lord, I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. Just read an article about Mike in the Southtown and it brought back a memory of Mike I had forgotten. I have no clue what function we were at, but Mike was wearing a kilt. Now a man that big in a kilt is already a sight to behold. No one there, and I'm 100% no one expected Mike to flip up his kilt and reveal Rudolph boxers, complete with the red nose. Tears of joy in the memory and tears of sorrow of never sharing a laugh with him again.


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