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Peter Joseph McDonnell

Peter J. McDonnell M.D.
March 25, 1955 - March 20, 2021

Peter McDonnell, M.D., FACS, RPVI age 65, of Oak Park, Illinois died March 20, 2021 at Loyola Hospital in Maywood, Illinois [due to complications from a bicycle accident] . Peter was surrounded by his wife, four children, and brother, Alan at the time of his death.

He married the love of his life, Vera McDonnell, on November 20th, 1984. They raised their four children Christopher Thomas, Katherine McDonnell, Alan McDonnell, and Matthew (Linsey) McDonnell in Oak Park, Illinois surrounded by a wonderful community of friends and family. He was a devoted grandfather to Caleb Lofton, Noah Thomas-Sanchez, Serenity, Olivia, and Vera McDonnell.

My husband was awe-inspiring! We met in 1978 while we both worked on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. I was married at the time. We became friends. His amazing mother would make his lunch. Only managers could bring things onto the trading floor so he would ask me to bring his sandwich (always made with butter) onto the floor. Of course I would eat it and then we’d go out to lunch. Off he went to Grenada. He wrote a couple of times and in one letter sent me Grenadian money and said he knew I wouldn’t write otherwise :)). He returned home and one night drunk dialed me. I was divorced by then:((. The rest is a beautiful story.

For many months Peter’s family didn’t know about our relationship, at least his mother didn’t. His mother would call and he would not let her know that he was sleeping at my house (which was really our apartment). That is the kind, gentle, compassionate, respectful man that I fell in love with. He finally got up the courage to take me to meet his family. So he brings this young black divorced girl in and not only that, but she has a kid! His Mother embraced me, his father just looked at me, and the rest of his family probably expected that from him. That was the beginning of our lives together. I fell in love with Peter not because of his good looks and sense of humor, but because he loved my son, Chris, like he was his own. Peter’s family became my family. We moved to Southfield, Michigan, married in 1984 and had two children, Kate and Al. We lived there from 1984-1988 and Peter completed his residency at Providence Hospital. In 1989 we moved to Cleveland where Matt was born, and where Peter completed his Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. We finally landed back in Chicago. Peter spent most of his career at Palos Community Hospital in private practice. That was not to be his finale. After leaving Palos Peter began locums work. He worked in many different hospitals and the last two years he worked at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Bremerton, Washington. Peter worked tirelessly our entire lives providing our family with an unbreakable foundation.

Peter spent a lot of time with our grandson Caleb. We helped our daughter raise Caleb and he lived with us from time to time. He was more like a son than a grandson and I had to constantly remind Peter that he was our grandson not his child. I think most of his thoughts in the last twelve years were focused on Caleb. He wanted to protect him from all harm. He traveled more with Caleb than he did with me. During this stage of our lives Peter had picked up a new hobby. He enjoyed going to the gun range with his brother Alan. He was excited about teaching our daughter Kate how to shoot a gun. He also loved going to Binny’s. He was sampling different scotches and trying to convince Alan that they were different. (Alan told me “ don’t tell him, but they all taste the same”.) He loved bike riding. He would ride his bike on the trail and would meet friends for coffee here and there. He also loved reading, my how he loved reading. Lately he had begun watching Kramer and MSNBC and taking care of our investments, which he was also amazing at! I told him he should become a Financial Advisor. He spoke with his brothers, Denny and Johnny, almost on a daily basis, discussing everything from politics to floating and everything else under the sun.

Peter was a healer, protector and family man who wore many hats - husband, father, grandpa, brother, uncle, friend, mentor, and incredible Vascular Surgeon. I worked in Peter’s office for a couple of years so I have first hand knowledge of how Peter was not only an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother, and physician, but EVERYONE loved him - his patients, the hospital staff, his colleagues, the nurses, the parking attendants, the maintenance crew. He treated everyone with respect and kindness. I watched him and listened to him as he treated his patients with such compassion, love and patience. Peter was too humble to ever talk about his accomplishments, but everyone knew that he was a gifted surgeon! He saved countless lives and the families of those he was unable to save were forever grateful to him for the care he provided to their loved ones. At times I wondered how he juggled so much and still had time and energy to love and support me in everything I ever wanted to do, and the same with our children. Peter loved taking care of and healing people, and he loved his family with his whole heart and soul.

Peter is survived by his adoring wife, four children, and five grandchildren as well as his siblings: Patricia (Norman) Aper, Alan D. Johnson, M.D. (his best friend throughout his life), Melissa, Dennis (Rose), and John (Sheila) McDonnell, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, (I have to mention his accountant, Barry Goldberg because when he was in the ER and I asked him if he wanted me to call anyone, he said “call Barry” gahahaha), and friends. Peter was preceded in death by his parents, John J. McDonnell and Patricia Johnson McDonnell (nee Cunningham) and his brothers Walter (Charlene-deceased) Johnson and Jeffrey B. (Maureen) Johnson, M.D.

The family thanks everyone for the outpouring of love and support shown throughout Peter’s hospitalization and subsequent death.

To honor his memory and the lives he saved during his professional career, we invite and encourage everyone to consider booking an appointment to donate blood. If you choose to donate, we would love to hear from you or see pictures. Registration can be found here: Upcoming blood drive. Help save lives. or https://donateblood.lifesource.org/AppointmentScheduling.aspx.

Arrangements entrusted to Chicagoland Cremation Options


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