A Remembrance: Kevin O’Donnell—A True Friend of the Peace Corps
By Kevin Quigley on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Kevin O’Donnell began his service to the Peace Corps as the first country director in Korea in 1966. His service began after a time of considerable personal and family challenges.
In his office to this day, there is a poignant portrait of his “blended” family with its eight enthusiastic children on the eve of their departure to Seoul.
After four years in Korea, where he developed a life-long love affair with that remarkable country, in 1970 Kevin was called back to Washington, DC. In 1971, he became the fourth director of the Peace Corps.
Following his leadership role at the Peace Corps, Kevin continued to enthusiastically support the Peace Corps by serving on the National Peace Corps Association’s Advisory Council, as a founder and board member of the Friends of Korea, and as an active member of the Northern Ohio Returned Volunteer Association. He also was a beloved mentor and advisor to innumerable RPCVs and Peace Corps staff.
Despite a busy professional life and a large family with enormous responsibilities, including caring for his beloved wife, Ellen, Kevin was always there whenever you called or needed him.
Sharing the same name, Kevin and I often bantered back and forth about who was the “real Kevin” and had the best claim to our ancestral homeland. There was no doubt in my mind that he was and always will be “the real Kevin.”
For Kevin, his love of the Peace Corps began a family affair—with his daughter, Megan, serving in Nepal and two granddaughters who also served in the Peace Corps.
On behalf of my board, colleagues, and the thousands of Peace Corps community members who liked and admired him, while recognizing the remarkable life he led, we express our deepest condolences to Kevin’s family.