Alice O’Hara Purcell

September 26, 1921 - October 23, 2014
Alice O’Hara Purcell


Alice O’Hara Purcell, 93, a bright light of Lake Renaissance, Wilmington NC, passed away on October 23, 2014.

Alice was born in New York City, NY on September 26, 1921 to the late Michael O’Hara and Nora Sheehan O’Hara. She moved to Stamford CT at an early age and spent most of her life there. She graduated from Stamford High School and Short’s Secretarial School. She married Tom Purcell, who she first met in Junior High, in 1942 during World War II.

Being a young married woman in 1942, Alice could only stand by as her young husband went off to war. Tom ended up in Germany fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and was eventually taken prisoner of war by the Germans. Back in the USA, with an infant child and a telegram indicating he was missing in action, one can only imagine the strength she had to summon and the fears she had to endure. The grit and determination she found as a young bride was evident throughout her life.

Tom safely returned from the service in 1945 and together they happily raised their growing family of four children. The family moved to Cortland NY in 1961 and spent 10 years there before returning to Stamford. Alice had a career later in life as Executive Secretary to the Chairman of the Board of Union Trust Bank. When Alice and Tom retired about 20 years ago they relocated to Wilmington NC to enjoy the weather and the golfing.

Alice was preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Tom Purcell, and is survived by one son, Thomas I. Purcell (Clare) of Stamford CT and three daughters, Barbara P. Burke of Wilmington NC with whom she made her home, Cathy P. Mitchell (Michael) of Heathrow, FL, and Lynn Purcell of Wilmington NC. She also leaves five grandchildren, Amy Hinzmann (Michael) of Hope Mills, NC, Heather Walger of Wilmington NC, Ryan Mitchell (Ashley) of Maitland, FL, Emily Purcell of Wilmington, NC, and Maura Purcell of Charlottesville VA. Seven great-grandchildren also survive her, Casey Lynn Purcell of Leland, NC, Jordan Tracey of Hope Mills, NC, Ava, Madeline and Dane Walger, all of Wilmington, NC and Carson and Maclaine Mitchell of Maitland FL.

She is also survived by several nephews and nieces, as well as many cousins across the US and in Ireland, close friends, loving caregivers, irreplaceable neighbors and fond acquaintances.

We will all miss her feistiness tempered with her Irish wit, piercing blue eyes and ever-ready smile. A devout Catholic and member of Immaculate Conception parish for over 20 years, her generosity, kindnesses and friendliness knew no boundaries. She was an inspiration to everyone that met her. There will never be another Alice…..

A memorial mass will be held 9 AM Tuesday October 28, 2014 at Immaculate Conception Church.

A vigil will begin at 8 AM at the church.

Memorial contributions can be made to Lower Cape Fear Hospice or Immaculate Conception Church Building Fund.

Condolences and memories may be shared with the family by clicking the “Sign Guest Book” tab above

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403. 910.791.9099


Purchase Flowers

Tribute Wall

Please feel free to sign the guestbook or share a memory



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • October 29, 2014
    Ana says:
    I am so sorry for your loss. Although, I do not know your family personally, I would like to share some encouraging thoughts from the Bible. The Bible provides comfort during these difficult times. Revelation 21:3-4 states, And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away. Very soon now, we will never experience losing our loved ones in death and we will be able to see them again once they resurrected as per John 5:28-29. May these words give you a new hope.

  • October 29, 2014
    Debbie Jones says:
    I was very sorry to hear about your mom. I remember her well. Lynn, Tom, Barbara and Kathy.... have not seen you in so many years. Take care..

  • October 27, 2014
    Carol Brewer Fenton says:
    This is Carol Brewer Fenton, daughter of Lucy and Bill Brewer. I was so sorry to read that your Mom had passed away. What a women she was.. fun,funny, sweet, kind, good listener and friend. Your parents, my parents, Wickwires, Hopes, so many of them gone now-an end of an era for sure. You kids hang on to the memories of your time in Cortland and at the lake. I miss seeing your Mom and Dad. Your friend, Carol

  • October 27, 2014
    Patrisha Fitzgerald Voelker says:
    It's been a long time since I saw Alice last but had a chance to briefly speak with her last month. I always remember her with a smile on her face and laugh that will always be remembered. May she rest in peace with Whitey.

  • October 27, 2014
    Jeanne Callahan says:
    Alice welcomed me into the family on the day we met and ever since I have felt like part of her wonderful loving family. She will be missed but will always hold a special place iny heart. My prayers and heartfelt thanks go to all of Alice's family for letting me share in the joy of Alice. Heaven will be a brighter place with her arrival. With love, Jeanne