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O'Connell rededication ribbon-cutting ceremony

Above left:  (left to right) Skeet O’Connell, Clark College President Bob Knight and Stella Mae O’Connell cut the ribbon to rededicate the O’Connell Sports Center. Above right:  Clarissa Farnsworth, wife of the late Ted Farnsworth, and their son, Ted Farnsworth, Jr., attended the dedication of the Farnsworth Conference Room in the O’Connell Sports Center.

On February 11, Clark College honored two important people in its history—Claude “Skeet” O’Connell and Theodore “Ted” Farnsworth. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held at the O’Connell Sports Center (OSC) to rededicate the facility following a two-year renovation project and to dedicate the OSC’s Ted Farnsworth Conference Room.

At age 93, Skeet O’Connell, accompanied by his wife Stella Mae, cut the commemorative ribbon to rededicate the O’Connell Sports Center, named in his honor. Ted Farnsworth Jr. helped Clarissa Farnsworth with ribbon-cutting honors on behalf of her husband, Ted, who died in 2004. A reception was held following the ceremonies.

Oswald plus Skeet at microphone

Above left: Oswald showed his support of the Penguin Nation. Above right:  Skeet O’Connell spoke of the great contributions that Ted Farnsworth made to Clark College and to the Clark College basketball team.

Claude “Skeet” O’Connell was the Clark College athletic director from 1946 until his retirement in 1977. He coached both baseball and basketball and guided the 1956 baseball team to a state championship. He returned to the college to coach golf until 1987 and has publicly joked that he “was not very good at retirement.”

“Skeet led by example,” said Ron Keil, a successful businessman and philanthropist who played for O’Connell on the basketball team and graduated from Clark in 1952. “He earned our respect; he didn’t demand it. He was my role model for life, not just sports.”

Gaydena Thompson & Patricia Wirth

Gaydena (Gaye)Thompson (left) made history in 1977 by succeeding Skeet O’Connell as Clark’s athletic director. She was the first female athletic director in the Washington state community college system. Clark alum Dr. Patricia Wirth (right) returned to serve as chief fiscal officer and vice president at Clark and was later named president of the Yuba College District in California.

 One day in the 1950s, Ted Farnsworth, a commercial fisherman and Clark alumnus, walked up to Skeet O’Connell on the basketball court asking if there was some way he could be of assistance to the team. “I didn’t know the guy,” said O’Connell, “but I told him I needed a scorekeeper. He became a dear friend.”

That moment began nearly 50 years of service to the college.  “Ted Farnsworth showed his love and spirit for the college and the community through his good works,” noted Cecil Miller, a Clark athlete from the Class of 1955. “Ted had a heart of gold.”


Denny Huston, interim athletic director and master of ceremonies for the event, noted that O’Connell and Farnsworth were mentors and positive role models throughout his years at Clark College both in athletics and administration. “No one can ever repay the good works of these individuals,” said Huston.

Family and friends were joined at the ceremonies by a standing-room-only crowd of Clark College faculty, staff and students – past and present.  “There is so much history in this room,” said Lisa Gibert, Clark College Foundation president and CEO. “The contributions of Skeet and Ted to Clark College will always be remembered.”  Speaking to members of the O’Connell and Farnsworth families, Gibert added, “Thank you for sharing them with us.”

Gordy Nilson, Skeet O’Connell, and Cecil Miller.

Left to right: Gordy Nilson, Skeet O’Connell, and Cecil Miller.

Clark College President Bob Knight spoke about the life skills that Clark student athletes acquired from O’Connell and Farnsworth. “Skeet understood that there was much more to sports than just playing a game,” said Knight. “He knew students were learning time management, decision-making skills, problem solving, teamwork, fair play, and commitment.”  Knight noted that Ted Farnsworth was “the best cheerleading squad in one person we have ever known. Because of his foresight, planning, and generosity, students will feel the benefits for years to come.”


Ron Keil (left), a student athlete who played on the Clark basketball team and graduated in 1952, praised Skeet O’Connell for his dedication to his students and Clark College. Keil is seated with Phil Diamond.


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