Michael Shea O'Connor
Michael Shea O'Connor, "Mike" to anyone he met, left this earth on September 8, 2017 after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. Mike, with his loving wife Barbara Gardner - a fierce advocate in this fight - by his side, went through several experimental treatments and endured increasingly severe pain. When all hope was lost, Mike had the courage to let go, and left this world two days later.
The son of James Ferrell O'Connor, deceased, and Jamea Shea O'Connor, deceased, Mike was proud of his Irish ancestry. He was the oldest of four brothers. The younger three, Timothy Ferrell, deceased, Sean Kevin, and Brian Patrick O'Connor, all looked up to him with great admiration.
Mike had a sunny and funny personality. He liked to make people laugh with his corny jokes and good humor. No matter what was happening in his life, including his own illness, he was always upbeat and positive. Mike was a good person to the core.
Mike was born in Bethesda, Maryland, while his father was in the Navy. The O’Connor clan settled in Houston, Texas, when Mike was ten, and he grew up in Bellaire. He was a baseball catcher from elementary to high school. As a senior in Bellaire High School, Mike was the drum major of the school’s cadet corps.
Mike’s early college years were interrupted by the Vietnam War. He enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to duty in Alaska, Italy, and New Mexico. Following his military service, he obtained a degree in journalism from the University of New Mexico. He was an excellent writer, which was recognized by the prestigious Associated Press who hired Mike right after college. He wrote for the Associated Press in both Albuquerque and Houston. Once settled back in Houston he married Jane McWhorter, who predeceased him in 2013.
Disliking the erratic schedule of a journalist, Mike went to work for Hughes Tool Company in the Public Affairs department. He then moved to Conoco Oil Company, which was acquired by DuPont. Still working in Public Affairs, Mike wrote speeches for DuPont’s and Conoco’s upper management officials and managed a territory from Texas to California. While working for DuPont, Mike attended South Texas College of Law at night, and in 1991 he left corporate America and opened his own law practice as a family law practitioner. He officed the entire time until his death with a group of three other lawyers in the River Oaks Tower.
Music was one of Mike’s favorite activities. In elementary school, he learned the fundamentals of music on the accordion, since his mother liked Lawrence Welk. Mike dutifully practiced the accordion for about two years, until his mother relented and bought him the guitar he so desired. Mike’s guitar talents were realized when he formed a rock `n roll band named the “Stepping Stones,” and they performed at local clubs such as the Catacombs.
Mike never lost his love for rock `n roll music. When he drove into the garage at home, in his beloved Tesla, Barbara could hear the music loudly playing through the car’s rolled-up windows. Mike knew every word to almost every rock song from the 60’s through the 80’s, and jammed regularly with a friend. Going forward, when we hear a Moody Blues, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and especially Eric Clapton song, we will think of Mike. He will be sorely missed.
Mike is survived by his wife, Barbara; his two brothers, Sean and Brian; his nephew Michael; and his niece Lauren.
Mike’s life will be celebrated at 2:00 PM, Friday, September 15, 2017 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 7901 Westview Drive, Houston, TX 77055.