Michael Francis O'Connor R.I.P.
Michael Francis O'Connor
August 12, 1929-July 1, 2014
To our Dear Listening Family,
My father, Mike O'Connor, died peacefully July 1st just a few weeks shy of his 85th birthday. He was in Oak Park Hospital for less than 24 hours. His family was blessed to be present at his passing. We thank all of you for your kind thoughts and prayers. We are certain he is happy above in Heaven. There is no doubt he resides in his favorite place; the "Ireland" section.
Below, please find a detailed obituary.
Mike "Mickey"O'Connor was the third of six children born to Mary(nee Roche) and Thomas O'Connor. He was born in Dublin, but spent most of his childhood in Ballinameen, Co. Roscommon. His mother was a qualified teacher and his father was Principal of the National School in Ballinameen. Mike's love of the GAA was born in Roscommon. He and two friends created a football club called St. Attracta's (named for their parish), which is now known as the Balinameen GAA club.
Both sides of his family were involved in the movement to rid Ireland of English occupation; as a girl, his mother volunteered as a messenger. She kept the slips of paper carefully tucked into her shoes as she crossed fields and back ways to avoid the Black & Tans. Her brothers were actively involved in the IRA. As a young man, his father Thomas was Secretary of the local Sinn Fein Cumann.
Mike attended Summer Hill and spent some time at All Hallows College in Dublin. His insurance career began early; at 19 he was "on the bike" selling life insurance house to house all over the West of Ireland. He left home and went to England. He worked for an insurance company by day and pulled pints in the evening. Mike decided to leave London for the USA in the mid-1950's. He went to his Uncle John Roche in Buffalo, NY. He lived all over the East Coast; New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Boston. He met his future wife Margaret (Marion) Whyte at "The Dance" on Thanksgiving night in 1958 in Boston. They married in April of 1962. Three children followed; one in each state they resided. Michael Jr. was born in Boston, Massachusetts, Mary Ellen, New Orleans,Louisiana, and Siobhainn, Chicago, Illinois.
Mike O'Connor spent his life in the insurance industry. His knowledge of the business was encyclopedic. You could ask almost any question on Property/Casualty, Auto, Life and Health/Annuities, and he would have the answer. He spent extraordinary amounts of time reading and taking classes about his industry so that he would be the most help to his clients.
On November 5, 1971, the Mike O'Connor Show made its debut on WOPA in Oak Park . Mike, always a staunch advocate of Irish culture, filled his air time with the music he loved. His immense knowledge of all things Irish, his passion for the Gaelic games, Irish culture and politics, and his quick wit and good humor quickly made his show a favorite. He was a very well-known fixture within Chicago's Irish community. Most weekends were spent attending dinner dances and socials put on by the numerous social and sport clubs around Chicago. He continued to host the radio show until his health dictated his retirement. His daughter Siobhainn took the helm, and the show continues.
Mike was diagnosed with Parkinson's, Graves disease, and Parkinson's dementia nine years ago. His wife, Margaret, kept him at home. The challenges and sacrifices were immense, but she overcame all. Thank you to all who have asked after Mike all these years, and thank you to the fine care-givers who made his time at home possible. Magda and Darlene, what a blessing you have been!
St. Patrick's Breastplate- aka, "The Deer's Cry" sung by Rita Connolly