ASTORIA - Long Beach resident Helen O'Connell, 96, known to all as "Smokey," died Nov. 18, 2004, in Astoria. The only child of Thomas and Maude (Fitzgerald) McChesney, she was born March 8, 1908, on a small ranch located between Lind and Kahlotus in eastern Washington. As a young girl she lived with family in Utah and Canada before returning to the ranch in Kahlotus when she was 16-years-old. A year later she moved to Longview where she attended high school.
On March 2, 1935, she married Jim "Red" O'Connell in Portland. Two years later he moved to Long Beach, and she stayed in Portland to help make ends meet. In 1939 she too moved to Long Beach and together they operated Red's Sandwich Shop and Arcade in downtown Long Beach. For many years this was the "hangout" and "safe haven" for area school kids and military personnel stationed nearby. Mrs. O'Connell befriended many of those customers, some of whom became lifelong friends, and she took pride in providing employment which assisted many with their college expenses. Later, when her husband operated Red's Restaurant in Ilwaco, she assisted in the operation until retirement in 1988.
Throughout her life, she was a hard worker and was very much her own person. In her free time she enjoyed crafts, yard work and flowers. She enjoyed writing, was a member of the Willapa Writers Guild, and published a book entitled "Kelly" which was based loosely on her life. Due to the love and support of friends and neighbors, she was able to maintain her independence up until the past year and that was very important to her.
Her husband died in 1995. Survivors include several cousins and her friends and neighbors of many years duration.
Funeral service was Nov. 22, at Penttila's Chapel by The Sea with a reception following. Concluding graveside service was Tuesday at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portland. Memorials may be made to PACE in care of Penttila's Chapel, PO Box 417, Long Beach, WA 98631.