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James Patrick O'Connor, Jr.

February 21, 1943 ~ February 2, 2022 (age 78)

Obituary

James (Jim) Patrick O’Connor, Jr., 78, of Park Ridge, Illinois, lost his short but intense battle with pancreatic cancer on February 2, 2022. Known to many as “Gentleman Jim,” he leaves a huge hole in the hearts of his family and friends who loved his quiet humor, kind heart, and gentle soul.

Born on February 21, 1943 to Josephine and James O’Connor in Chicago, Illinois, Jim and his three sisters, Mary Jo, Fran, and Liz, grew up in the Jefferson Park neighborhood and attended St. Cornelius grammar school. Always surrounded by family, Jim’s grandmothers and loving aunts, uncles, and neighbors heavily influenced his childhood, especially after the children lost their mother unexpectedly to colon cancer when Jim was thirteen years old.

Jim was in the first full graduating class of Notre Dame High School in Niles. During these years, he developed life-long friendships with the “StripTeasers” – friends from the neighborhood who shared his passion for cars and drag strip racing. After high school, Jim worked at Kroger grocery store for a couple years before deciding to pursue a college degree. He took his education seriously, receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting from St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota and proudly graduating with honors.

With a laser-focus on education, Jim’s hard work was rewarded with a teaching fellowship from the University of Detroit. There, he earned his M.B.A. and, most importantly, met Daniela (Dany) Mucha, an undergraduate student who hired Jim as a tutor in business law. A consummate professional even then, Jim waited until the semester and his official tutoring responsibilities were over before asking Dany out on a first date. After trading in his beloved red 1963 Corvette for an engagement ring, the pair married in 1969 and moved to Chicago and then Park Ridge, where they raised their three children. Jim and Dany became active members of the St. Paul of the Cross parish cultivating friendships that continue today.

As a young father, Jim was involved with his children in YMCA adventure programs, scouting, and their different school activities and celebrations. He and Dany spent most of their free time on nights and weekends renovating their home on Imperial Street, working as a team, hanging wallpaper, painting, laying flooring and tile, stripping and staining old woodwork - all self-taught - while listening to Cubs games and Milt Rosenberg on WGN radio.

Professionally Jim flourished – he received his CPA credential and worked as an auditor for Touche Ross & Co. (now Deloitte), before a client (Jewel-Osco) recruited him to work in-house. Years later, after several promotions at Jewel-Osco, Jim went to work at Hollister Incorporated, an employee-owned medical device manufacturer, where he was later promoted to Controller. He spent the last twenty-two years of his professional career at Hollister, remembered there for his integrity, good judgment, and cafeteria soup addiction. After retirement, he put his time and accounting expertise to work for Orphans of the Storm Animal Shelter in Deerfield, through development of the Ruth Helen Wolf Animal Clinic and Hospital, its sister facility.

In his free time, Jim was an avid reader of crime fiction and he enjoyed keeping up with current events, spending many hours reading newspapers in quiet corners of the Park Ridge Public Library. Jim enjoyed travel of all kinds - family camping trips, road trips across the country, overseas travel by land, river, and ocean – his favorite being a land and ocean trip with Dany and friends to Alaska. A casual golfer for many years, Jim later became addicted to pickle ball where he was introduced to yet another group of wonderful friends.

Most of all, Jim enjoyed conversation with family and friends over a good meal and classic cocktail – “We pour at 4!” was the standard line. At family parties, he was known for his groan-inducing but endearing puns, love of magic card tricks, puzzles, and brain teasers, and engaging laughter. Jim will be missed by everyone who knew and loved him.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Mary Josephine (Mary Jo) Lutzow, and many other beloved family and friends. His memory will be cherished by his wife, Dany; children, Katie (Craig) Byrnes, Margie O’Connor, and Mike O’Connor; sisters, Frances (Tom) Durkin and Elizabeth Braden; brother-in-law, Robert Lutzow; loving nieces Maribeth (Glenn) Browne, Carolyn (Jim) Celano, Maureen (Matthew) Kamykowski, Kathleen (Emily) Durkin, Josie (Bob) Hopp; nephews, Robert (Wendy) Lutzow, Thomas (Nina) Durkin, Daniel (David) Durkin; Jeremy (Kristy) Braden; all their children, many other relatives near and far, and the most wonderful group of friends and neighbors.

Visitation and a memorial prayer will be held on Saturday, Feb. 12, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Ryan-Parke Funeral Home, 120 S. Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge, Illinois, followed by a funeral mass at 12:30 p.m. at St. Paul of the Cross Church across 140 S. Northwest Hwy. The Mass will be livestreamed: at www.spc-church.org or www.youtube.com//c/StPauloftheCrossChurch. Interment of Jim’s ashes will be at 2:00 p.m. at All Saints Cemetery, 700 N River Rd, Des Plaines, IL.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Network (www.pancan.org), Defeat DIPG (www.defeatDIPG.org), or any charity of your choice in memory of Jim are welcome.

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Services

Visitation
Saturday
February 12, 2022

9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Ryan-Parke Funeral Home
120 S. Northwest Hwy.
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Funeral Mass
Saturday
February 12, 2022

12:30 PM
St. Paul of the Cross Church
140 South Northwest Hwy.
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Entombment
Saturday
February 12, 2022

2:00 PM
ALL SAINTS CEMETERY-MAUSOLEUM
700 N RIVER RD
DES PLAINES, IL 60016-1270

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