Frank C. O’Donnell, a former butler to New York City Mayor John Lindsay who retired as the attendance supervisor and truant officer at Oyster Bay High School, died at home in Oyster Bay Thursday after a brief illness. He was 84.
“He just slipped away quietly in his chair,” said his son, Nassau District Court Judge Colin F. O’Donnell. “I had just seen him the day before, and he had a little cold but was in good spirits.”
O’Donnell was a native of Glasgow, Scotland, and came to America in 1957. His son said his father became a citizen in 1965.
In 1961, he and his wife, Catherine, a former British Transport cop, were married. The couple began working for Lindsay in 1966, staying about two years. She died in October 2014.
Colin O’Donnell said his father “was responsible for lighting the original yule log in 1966 at Gracie Mansion.”
A union painter and paper hanger by trade, Frank O’Donnell went to night school and earned a degree in psychology and counseling in 1978 from SUNY-Empire State College. He began working for Oyster Bay High School as an attendance supervisor and truant officer in 1972 and stayed on the job 26 years, retiring in 1998.
“Education was a big thing to him,” said Colin O’Donnell, “and he and my mom worked hard to put me through college.”
Frank O’Donnell was a member of the State Attendance Supervisor’s Association. He played golf and loved to read. “He didn’t have a big education, but he was a really well-read man,” the son said.
Colin O’Donnell added that his father also loved to follow politics, locally and nationally. “It just interested him,” he added.
His son said his father also belonged to the Masonic Lodge in Oyster Bay.
Visiting will be at the Oyster Bay Funeral Home from 2:30 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by a private service and a private burial.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in his name be made to the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club in Locust Valley or the Friends of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Public Library.