Beloved father, grandfather, loyal friend, and devoted spouse James “Jim” McDonnell Geelan, 83, of Belle Isle, FL passed away peacefully at his home on Saturday, May 21, 2022, with his wife of 60 years and several of his children by his side. He was born in New Haven, CT on July 7, 1938, to James Patrick Geelan and Elizabeth Doll Geelan. Jim attended Notre Dame High School in West Haven, CT where he graduated with honors. He was active in the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Aeden’s Church, which is where he met the love of his life and wife Barbara Jean Smith, at the age of 16. Jim completed his undergraduate degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and obtained his master’s degree from Yale University in Industrial Administration in 1962.
While at MIT, Jim enrolled in the ROTC program and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army upon graduation. He was called to active duty shortly after starting his career and was stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado. Jim was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, served as Company Commander, and later served as the Aide to the Assistant General Division Commander for logistics. For his service as the General’s Aide, he was awarded the Army Commendation medal.
Upon his discharge, Jim returned to Connecticut where he and Barbara raised six children, living in the towns of West Haven, Madison, Old Lyme, and Old Saybrook. He was very active in the Knights of Columbus, the West Haven Irish American Club, coached little league baseball and was a dedicated parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church in Old Lyme.
In 1986, Jim and his family relocated to Belle Isle, FL where he lived and was an active member of the Blessed Trinity Catholic parish for 36 years. He was passionate in support of his church community, fulfilling roles as a eucharistic minister, lector, cantor, and was also a member of the choir, finance committee and the men’s club. Jim was also a very active in the Knights of Columbus and held the role of Grand Knight from 1999 to 2000.
As a lifelong Red Sox fan, Jim cherished the times he could watch the games with his children and grandchildren either in person or on T.V. and was overjoyed when they finally won the World Series in 2004! Another passion of his was singing, and he shared his gift at family weddings, with the Blessed Trinity choir, and looked forward to performing in the Candlelight Processional at Epcot during Christmas time for several years. During retirement, Jim and Barbara loved to travel back to Connecticut to see family and take relaxing vacations to their favorite spot in Vero Beach. They also embarked on several cruise adventures, including a trip to the Caribbean for their 50TH wedding anniversary on August 11, 2012.
Jim’s greatest joy and proudest accomplishment in life was the large, loving family of six children he and Barbara raised, and the thirteen grandchildren they were blessed with. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; sons James (Pam) Geelan, Timothy (Melissa) Geelan, Daniel (Bonnie) Geelan, Ronald (Christine) Geelan, Barbara (Mark) Wareham, and Michael (Maureen) Geelan; brother Brendan Geelan and sisters, Sister Mary Faith Geelan, OP and Patricia Dimenstein; grandchildren, Dillon (Ashley), Ryan, Patrick, Connor, Quinn, Kelly, Sawyer, Erin, Rileigh, Nick, Colin and Micah Geelan, and Sean Wareham. Jim was predeceased by his sister, Elizabeth Ann Geelan.
A mass service to celebrate Jim’s life will be held at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Orlando, FL on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at 11:00AM. Jim will be interred with military honors at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery in a private family service on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the entire Vitas care team for the compassionate care provided to Jim and his family.