Donald P. O’Hare died on May 10, 2023, in Denver, Colorado following complications from surgery. A brief service and interment will be at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Cheektowaga, New York on June 10, 2023 at 10:30. Don is survived by his loving wife of nearly 65 years, Rita, by his children, Sheila and Donald C. O’Hare (Eileen), and by his granddaughter Victoria. He was a member of many different Catholic communities throughout his life, most recently Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Denver and St. Thomas More Catholic Parish in Centennial, Colorado.
Born on July 21, 1937 in the small town of Keene, New York in the Depression-era Adirondacks, Don had a tough childhood. Abandoned by his mother, he was raised by his grandfather and his Aunt Tess; his father suffered a brain injury during World War II and spent the rest of his life in a Veterans hospital. In an odd twist, Don’s older cousins, Bill and Corinne, were also abandoned by their parents and grew up in their grandfather’s household. Don treated them as his siblings throughout his life. After the death of his grandfather, Don and his aunt relocated to New York City (a culture shock he always remembered!), where Corinne was launching a career as a fashion designer while Bill began to rise within the new television industry. Don graduated from Forest Hills High School in Queens and briefly attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn before being drafted into the U.S. Army and serving honorably in South Korea.
When he came back to New York, family obligations precluded his return to college. Instead, he took a job with American Airlines in Manhattan. This was actually a fortunate turn of events, because it was there that he met Rita Gregor, then beginning her own career at American. They married and settled in her native Buffalo. Rita’s extended Polish-American family accepted Don as one of their own. Not having family of his own in Buffalo, Don was particularly grateful to Rita’s youngest aunt, Florence Suminski (who was more of a sister to Rita), and her family (husband Joseph, and sons Joe and James) for the kindness they showed him over the years.
Don began work with American as a reservations agent, and gradually took on positions of greater responsibility following many moves to such far-flung places as Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Nashville, and Miami; Rita served as a rock of stability for the family throughout all of these changes. He eventually rose to the position of Senior Vice President of Field Operations (the company’s largest unit) at the time of his retirement. Whatever his role at the time, he was always known as a hard-working, fair, and honorable person in his career and life.
He saved perhaps his finest act for his final 17 years in Colorado, inventing games with Victoria and helping with her homework every day after school. He was able to see Sheila earn a doctorate and Donald become a judge (neither inherited his head for business), and he proudly watched Victoria graduate as Valedictorian of her class at Regis Jesuit Catholic High School. His life was full of novel and exciting experiences, but it was always anchored by his love of family. In his later years he suffered from a number of health problems that restricted his activity, but his intelligence and humor never wavered. He loved classic cars, espionage movies, dining out, country music, the Buffalo Bills, the Denver Nuggets, and his faithful Boston terrier, Juliet.
His was a truly remarkable American life. May he rest in peace with the Lord.