Ithaca - John Charles O'Connor passed away peacefully at home surrounded by those whom he loved most on April 27, 2018. John was born on March 11, 1947 in Ithaca and began a life of quiet kindness and lots of jokes. He grew up with his big sister, Mary Mackenzie, big brother, James O'Connor, and his dad and mom, James O'Connor and Loretta O'Connor. He was very close with his Aunt Ethel Farrell. He had perfect attendance in Kindergarten at Cayuga Heights Elementary school and graduated from Ithaca High School. As a lifelong Ithacan, John loved his hometown and the serenity of Cayuga Lake.
John served his country proudly in the U.S. Navy on the USS Durham during the Vietnam War. When he came home he spoke very little of the war, but told stories of seeing the World's Fair in Japan and brought his mother a set of china, and she used it for every fancy meal.
After returning from Vietnam he started his 45-year best-friendship and marriage to Kristie Jo Harper O'Connor. Kristie and John worked and played together, and ran several successful businesses. Kristie lived in anticipation of April Fools' Day since John lived to figure out what prank he would pull on her each year. Kristie and John loved watching thunderstorms, sitting on the swings at Stewart Park and generally being together. Kristie was taken by his jokes and wise cracks, love and companionship every day for 45 years. For this she is forever grateful.
John has two children Leah Jo O'Connor and Kevin Harper O'Connor. Each of John's children adore him in every way possible and look up to him and they hope to be half the parent he was. John was a hands -on father from the very start. Every Sunday, John took Leah and Kevin to see the pigs at Cornell and to swim at Flat Rock. He attended every school event, drove them both to school each day, and packed lunches containing bad poetry and reassurance that they were loved.
John also added an extra kid along the way, David Carpenter. With a similar sense of humor and a love for each other, David and John had a lifelong connection and bond that will never be broken.
John was very close and wonderful to his two daughters-in-law, Joy O'Connor and Gretchen Ryan, and loved them as his own. Joy and John enjoyed, among many things, ordering the same thing when out to dinner and sharing their dry sarcasm, often at Kristie's expense. Gretchen loved his gentle, steady way and cooking desserts for him. John also loved getting to know David's new love, Don Simonetti Jr.
John was adored by his four grandchildren, Max O'Connor, Samantha O'Connor, Luka Ryan-O'Connor and Gabriel Ryan-O'Connor. John attended the births (in the waiting room) and all school events and sports events for the four grandbabies. He teased them all mercilessly at their frequent family dinners. He has a collection of their art work and spelling tests. John was extremely sentimental and his family was everything to him.
John is also survived by sister-in-law Penelope, and nephew Gregory Ludlum (children Emma and Ethan) and niece Marcy (Leon) Hannum (children Seth (Angelie) and Sarah Boyd).
The family will celebrate John's life on July 14, 2018. They encourage you to pull a prank on a loved one in John's memory, and memorial donations may be made in John's honor to Arnot Health Children's Miracle Network, https://www.arnothealth.org/donate-online or by check to, 600 Roe Avenue, Elmira, NY 14905; Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), https://www.cureepilepsy.org/get-involved/donate; or the SPCA of Tompkins County, http://www.spcaonline.com/gifts or by check to 1640 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.