Virginia Beach – Philip Thomas O’Hara passed away peacefully on January 2, 2018. Phil was born on July 6, 1928 in Niagara Falls, NY, the son of James Arthur and Pearl O’Hara. He was 1 of 7 children and was the 4th son. Phil graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic School in Niagara Falls at age 16. While attending his Catholic High School, he was asked to join the public-school fraternity, which he participated in for two years and served as President during his second year. Phil played high school football, basketball and baseball. He was captain of the football team, but his favorite sport was baseball.
Phil went on to graduate from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. at age 18. He was the Sophomore Class President and he successfully achieved dual majors: Pre-Med and Philosophy.
He joined the Marine Corps at 19 years of age, as an Infantry Officer and became a Pilot just a few years later. He flew Corsair Fighters and was active during the Korean War. Phil was a Marine Corps Captain when he separated from the Military in 1955. Once a Marine, always a Marine. His love for the Marine Corps never wavered, a tradition and love that he shared with 6 of his sons.
While stationed in Virginia, Phil went on a blind date with Joan Sathe, fell in love and married her on August 19th, 1950. Over the next 67 years, they lived in D.C., Florida, Texas, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and finally landed back in Virginia in1995, but this time in Virginia Beach.
After Phil left the Marine Corps, he flew for Pan Am, which fueled his love of international travel.
Three years later, Phil left the skies for a position with Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CG). CG and Phil shared a common philosophy: serve first and worry about pay later. He served as the Agency Manager of the Pittsburgh office where his team earned 2 prestigious Outstanding Agency Awards during his leadership. After 23 years as the Agency Manager, he retired from his position in 1985 to the cheers of 300 people. It was raising his family in Pittsburgh that sparked his passion for Pittsburgh sports teams. Phil loved everything black & yellow: the Steelers, the Penguins and the Pirates.
Phil moved to Connecticut and continued to work in various consulting roles until he and his beautiful bride retired to Virginia Beach in 1995.
In 1996, Phil and Joan left for a 10 & 1/2-month European vacation. They spent time in London, Paris, Florence and Rome. They also visited the countries of their heritage, Ireland and Norway. He was quoted as saying that he saw the world with the most wonderful woman in the world.
Phil and Joan were married for 67 wonderful years. The first 23 years together brought them 15 children. Together they raised 8 sons and 7 daughters. Phil was a strong practicing Catholic and he provided a Catholic education for all of his 15 children. He was always very proud of his children and their life accomplishments. He and Joan led by example and instilled all of the values that they both carried in themselves. He was a remarkable father and mentor to all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In addition to his love of family, faith, country and Pittsburgh sports, Phil and Joan owned thoroughbred race horses. They invested in their first horse in 1975 and continued through 2017. Phil loved the races and going to the track, especially with his sons who worked in the business.
Phil and Joan have been parishioners and attended daily mass at St John the Apostle Church in Virginia Beach for 21 years. He served as a lector for many years and a mentor for many fellow parishioners.
Phil was often overheard saying that he was the most fortunate and blessed person in the entire world and that he truly was.
Phil was a fighter to the very end. Although he won a few earlier battles with cancer, his most recent battle began at the end of October and ended in the hospital, unable to recover from pneumonia. On Sunday, December 31, 2017, Phil took communion for the last time and watched his Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns in the final game of the season. He cheered on his team surrounded by many of his children and suited up in his Steelers jersey. It was his final request of the doctors. He passed away peacefully on January 2, 2018.
Phil is survived by his wife of 67 years, Joan Sathe O’Hara, all 15 children and their spouses: Kathleen O’Hara, James & Kathleen O’Hara, Philip & Janis O’Hara, Stephen & Lori O’Hara, John & Robin O’Hara, Dani-Marie Jones, Shawn O’Hara, Andrew and Kimberly O’Hara, Charles O’Hara, Nancy and Peter Bizon, Susan O’Hara White, Matthew & Michele O’Hara, Kelly & Michael Weisenberg, Kristin O’Hara and Joseph O’Hara & his wife Lizbeth Scordo; 34 beautiful grandchildren and 17 wonderful great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brothers Roger and Paul and many loved nieces and nephews.
Philip Thomas O’Hara has touched the hearts and lives of so many people throughout his life. He was an incredible man who provided for his wife and children and showed them love and kindness that will stay with them forever. His generosity for everyone he came in contact with was overwhelming. His beautiful smile, bright eyes and beaming personality will be missed. His friends in heaven are waiting for their cribbage partner to join them as they all know he has earned a spot in their circle.
A Celebration of Life gathering will be held on January 9, 2018 from 3:00 pm to 6:30 pm at Family Choice Burials and Cremations located at 5401 Indian River Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456. Please join the family at the celebration in honor of Phil’s life. Family and friends are invited to say a few words about Phil, should they choose.
A mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. John the Apostle Church on January 10, 2018 at 11:00 am and a reception at the church, immediately following the funeral mass is being held by the family.
An interment will take place at the Quantico National Cemetery, with military honors to be rendered, on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 2:00 pm.
Just one year ago, a scholarship fund was set up at St John the Apostle Catholic School to honor Philip and Joan O’Hara and the legacy that they have, together, created. The scholarship is awarded to the child of an active duty military personnel and practicing Catholic parishioner of St John’s the Apostle Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Philip and Joan O’Hara St John the Apostle Catholic School would be appreciated.
Donations can be sent to: Tracey Dooley at St John’s the Apostle Catholic School,1968 Sandbridge Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456 and made payable to St John the Apostle Catholic School. Please reference the scholarship name on your check.
The O’Hara family extends their most sincere and gracious thank-you to all of Mr. O’Hara’s doctors, nurses and staff who have cared for him over the past several months. Special thanks to The Virginia Oncology Group, Dr. Lee and Dr. Bonner and their teams and the very special folks at Sentara Pulmonology, Dr. Inayet and Dr. Saadah.
An extra special thanks to the team in the step-down unit (3B) at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital. Dr. Alcantara, all of the nurses and assistants and respiratory therapists, you allowed Mr. O’Hara to live out his final days with dignity and pride. You treated him with such compassion and the O’Hara family is forever grateful.
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brother ron found this, sent to rest of family (11 of us). i met some of you at adolph gauthier’s funeral, my grandfather, i loved much. in pgh., veteran of VN infantry, retired, but day trade. hope all is well, goodnight.
Mr. O’Hara was someone whom I admired since I first met him in elementary school in Pittsburgh. As a former Marine, he was a no BS type of father to his then considerable family. He and his wife raised an amazing family, with core values, honor and integrity. Such a man will be missed not only by his family and co-workers, but by a society in desperate need of such an honorable and ethical man. RIP Philip. Saint Peter and Michael the Archangel are eagerly awaiting your arrival to congratulate you on a life well-lived.
RIP sir. A life well lived and a job well done. Fair Winds and Following Seas.
My prayers for Phil and for your family. I remember him as one of the pillars of St. James Parish. I remember Matt serving my First Mass in 1986, and I considered it a privilege to have a member of the O’Hara family taking part. Requiescat in Pace.
Dear Joan and Family,
“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again,
and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” John 16:22
Both Susan and I were saddened to hear of Phil’s passing. Please accept our deepest condolences and know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Phil’s dedication and devotion to God, Country, the Marine Corps and your beautiful family is a legacy that will endure and transcend generations to come. I was so blessed to have got to know him over the years. A gracious manner, kindness, strength, courage and a positive, ever-smiling faith-filled perspective comes to mind when describing this great human being. As a spiritual gift to your family you shall be remembered in the Liturgy of the Hours and a Votive Candle will be lit it in his memory at Saint John the Apostle Church. We take comfort in knowing that for Phil, life has not ended but only changed. Even though his Corsair has PCS’d to a new heavenly airfield, his love and spirit remain with us. With love and God’s blessing to you all.
Dear Mrs. O’Hara,
My deepest sympathy to you, JohhnyO, and all of the O’Hara’s.
Mr. O’Hara will be remembered by everyone he met as a wonderful, kind, caring man. He was always especially nice to me, even after JohnnyO and I bar-tended for the big CG Christmas Party in Edgewood! (although we were not hired the next year).
I am blessed to have known your Phil,
May God bless and be with all the O’haras. Rest in Peace Uncle Phil. I believe you have earned a special place in God’s Kingdom.
As a member of the (6-girl) Shanahan family in Edgewood, I greatly admired the O’Hara family for their ability run such a smooth household with so many boys(!!).
When I heard the sad news today, My first thought was of all the early, early, (one more) early mornings during Lent when Mr. O’Hara would pile a bunch of kids into the car and drive us to daily mass in the chapel at St. James. It never seemed to be a chore or a burden for him to do so. What another wonderful example of a man living his faith.
I will remember the O’Hara family in my prayers.
Mrs. O’Hara and family. My condolences on your loss. He was a good man. Some one I admired and respected. I have many warm memories of the home on Maple Ave. I still have opportunities to drive by regularly and always glance up and smile. Mr. O’Hare played a role in my growing up and life. Setting examples of faith, family, and values. He was the first adult who treated me like an adult. Upon my recent retirement and reflecting on my journey and career of 38 years as a counselor/therapist with criminals I remember the role Mr. O’Hara played , planting a seed about “doing ” something” I will remember you in my Prayers.
Deepest Sympathy to you and your family from everyone here at Durdach Bros., Inc.
This is for Phil and Jim.
Your dad was awesome in the most correct definition.
No wonder you both were tough guys.
May the Lord be with your family at this time.
I just wanted to take the time to send my best wishes and thoughts to the entire O’Hara family. I will never forget the first time we went to Pittsburgh in 1979 to meet our soon to be in-laws. It didn’t seem likely my sister would marry a man with more siblings than we had, but it was true.
My favorite memory of Phil Sr. was a trip I made to Pittsburgh with some pals for a baseball series and I connected with the O’Hara’s and they immediately said come over to the house and bring your friends.
We went, of course, and Phil said we are going out for dinner at his favorite restaurant. One hitch was wee all needed to have dress jackets. Needless to say, we were on a baseball trip and not prepared. Not to worry. Up to the Master bedroom and out came the sports jackets for the 5 of us!! Then off to the restaurant, a very typical fine dining establishment the name of which escapes me to this day. My traveling party was overwhelmed by all this and we really enjoyed the entire adventure. In typical O’Hara fashion, when the bill cam for the dinner, Phil just waved us all off and said it was his treat. That says all you need to know about how wonderful and gracious Phil was to people.
I am glad we saw him a couple of years ago when Liz got married, and I want to send my best most especially to Joan. With all my love, Michael Sauro.
Babe, so sorry to her of Phil passing. I will never forget the times we spend working at CG and sharing a friendship and respect. May god grant him eternal rest and peace.
I am sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. O’Hara. He made a difference in so many people’s lives as well as in my own.
My deepest sympathies to the O’Hara family. I worked for Henry Rea back in the seventies, and Phil would come into the office just about every day. What a wonderful man he was. We had many conversations about family, work and life in general. I am sure he is with his father in heaven; no one deserves it more.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire O’Hara family. We have many fond memories of the O’Hara family in Simsbury through the basketball and baseball seasons. Thanks for the great memories!!
May there be comfort in love, your eternal connection to one whose life has been meaningful part of your lives. With deepest sympathy, Kevin and Megan Shanley
Hope you enjoyed your journey home. I can’t help but think of the song “On Eagles Wings” and the image of you soaring through the clouds being dropped off at the Pearly Gates. What a reception you must have had. I’m hoping my Jim has a lay of the land by now and can get you to the Heavenly Race Track where your horse will always win. Take care of us from up there, remind us to love each other. We are so blessed to have such an incredible man as our Dad and role model. You’ll be greatly missed here on earth but heaven will be so much sweeter with you in it. In the words of the great and powerful Oz “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others”
I love you Dad, we’ll take good care of Mom.
Dear O’Hara family,
Mr. O’Hara was a great husband and father. His leadership qualities were impressive. He was a man of great faith. We are so sorry for your great loss.
With warm regards,
Mike & Gretchen Short
We celebrate the life of an immortal man. Though he is physically gone his memories are forever and may you find peace in the knowledge that he deeply loved you and would have wished to stay longer with you. Treasure every memory of your Husband and I want to express my deepest condolences for the passing of your Husband. I will forever remember the O’Hara Family and the great times we had together.
Ed & Carol Hillegass
My deepest sympathy to Joan and the family. My wife Karen and I treasured our friendship with you,Phil and your family. Our lives were enriched by your sincerity, generosity, and good humor. We will miss hearing Phil’s magnificent voice when he was the lector for the 7:30 Sunday mass. Of particular note was Phil’s regular addition to the printed announcements: “Be kind to each other in the parking lot.” To Joan and the family: we know his spirit lives on in all of us.
Our deepest sympathy to the entire O’Hara family. We remember the years shared at St. James Wilkinsburg. May he rest in peace.
The William Brashear Family