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Obituary - James B. O'Connor 1933-2019


August 8, 2019

James O'Connor

James B. O'Connor was born on a small wheat farm outside of Box Elder, Montana. He was one of four children born to Byron and Juanita O'Connor. While still in grade school, his family left the farm and moved to Great Falls, Montana, where Jim graduated from Great Falls High School. After high school Jim attended the University of Montana, where he became a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Later he transferred to Northern Montana College (now Montana State University-Northern) and worked nights on the Great Northern Railway to pay for his college education, studying in the engine cars between trains arriving to be unloaded.

Jim was drafted during the Korean War and served honorably for two years in the U.S. Army.

After the Army, Jim returned to Havre and married Jean Gibson, also of Havre. They had one daughter, Kate, and resided in Havre until the untimely death of Jeanie in 1956.

In 1960, Jim met Janet Hansen at a supper club in Havre, where he famously asked her to dance, to which she simply replied "Jim O'Connor, I presume." They were married in Sidney, Montana, in 1961.

In Havre, Jim began working for Prudential Insurance Company. He worked for Prudential for over 40 years. Eventually they moved to Great Falls and then to Missoula, where Jim became a Division Manager for Prudential. In 1967 their son Dan was born. In 1973 Jim accepted the position of acting manager of Prudential's San Francisco agency and the family moved to the Bay Area. They resided in the Bay Area for three years until Jim became the manager of the Spokane Agency in 1976. While in Spokane Jim grew the Prudential agency to 30 agents and oversaw Prudential operations throughout eastern Washington and north Idaho. Jim was an excellent leader and mentor to all his agents and clients, maintaining relationships with many of them after his retirement in 1989.

In his youth, Jim worked on his granddad's farm, spending long hot summer days on a tractor in summer fallowing the fields. Jim was an excellent pheasant hunter and fly fisherman. He was active in the Spokane community. He was a cornerstone member of the Son's of Norway, patron of the Spokane Symphony, member of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, and active in several local business organizations. Jim was an avid golfer who always insisted on walking so if he had a bad round at least he got some exercise. While at home he could always be found reading his Wall Street Journal with the business news on. In his neighborhood he was famous for his "walks around the block" and his shooting baskets in the driveway. He and Janet made a number of trips to Europe, Hawaii and Mexico. Jim was a wonderful father who was a faithful attendee at baseball, basketball and football games, as well as orchestra concerts and piano recitals. He dearly loved his grandkids as they made him laugh and smile every time he saw them, as they gave him great joy. He loved to play with them, go on walks, and make ice cream cones that they always begged him to make.

Jim lived a full and rewarding life and made a positive impact on all those he came in contact with. He will be sorely missed.

Jim is survived by his wife, Janet, sister Nita, daughter Kate (Robin), son Dan (Robyn), grandchildren Ashley, Troy, Elaine, Lucille and great-grandchildren Wilson and Ede, and numerous nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his parents, first wife, Jeanie, sister Joyce and brother, John.

A celebration of life was held for Jim at St. Mark's Lutheran Church Wednesday, August 7, at 3:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to St. Jude's Children's Hospital and World Wildlife Fund.


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