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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