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Denis O'Connor


1950 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Denis O'Connor Obituary

There will be a celebration of life service for Denis O'Connor on November 21, 2015, 10:30 am, at the Wheatland Christian Church, 215 Main St. Denis was a pastor at the Wheatland Christian Church for twenty two years.

He was born on January 29, 1950 to Leva and James O'Connor who are both deceased. His sister, Kathleen O'Connor Doersch, still resides in Wheatland.

After graduating from Wheatland High School and Yuba College, Denis attended Bethany Bible College in Santa Cruz, CA and St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, CA. At the University of San Francisco, he received a multiple subject teaching credential.

In 1980, he began teaching at Juvenile Hall in Marysville, CA. He married Judy Kelly on December 13, 1980 at St. Patrick's Church in San Jose, CA. Their marriage was blessed with the birth of a daughter, Kathryn Kelly, and a son, Patrick Jordan.

In 1989, Denis pursued studies at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. He earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies.

In 1993, Denis became a pastor at the Wheatland Christian Church, and was ordained on February 18, 1996. He served there until June of 2015. Upon retirement, Denis and Judy moved to Paducah, Kentucky in July, near Judy's hometown.

On September 3rd, Denis bravely faced his diagnosis of stage IV pancreatic and liver cancer. His wife, his children and their families, his pastor friend from high school, Fred Jordan, and his Hospice nurse, Martha Hughes, rallied around him. While facing death, he played music, wrote a song, and took comfort in attending church and reading Scripture. On the evening of October 30th, Denis took his last breath on earth and his first in heaven.

Those who knew him appreciated his warmth, sense of humor, approachability, and friendship. Many of you may have an item Denis found at a yard sale or thrift store. He loved finding a treasure for a friend and getting a good deal. If he met you for the first time, Judy would most likely find your name written on a piece of paper along with the names of family members. He was never a hurried man, but never failed to respond to a call for help. He enjoyed boats of every kind. He and Judy cashed in their wedding gift certificates to purchase kayaks.

Music was a passion that ran throughout his life. He could turn any event into a song: a courtship, the birth of a child, and a friend's wedding. His creativity and love of music came together when he played and sang student poems at Juvenile Hall. Over the years, he has written many songs expressing his journey of faith. Upon Denis' last visit with his grandchildren, Hobbes and June, harmonicas were passed out; music and foot tapping began.

Denis' love for his wife and children was demonstrated throughout his life. His children, Kathryn and Patrick, always knew that Dad would be there for them. The way they cared for him during his last weeks was the best legacy a father could leave.

Many friends have written and called expressing how much he meant to them. What a blessing and encouragement this has been! Thank you each.

Following the service, the family invites you to join them for a community potluck at Pioneer Hall in Wheatland, corner of 4th St. and B St.

Memorials may be sent to the Wheatland Christian Church, P.O. Box 326, Wheatland, CA 95692 or to Lourdes Hospice, P.O. Box 7100, Paducah, KY 42002-7100.

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Published in Appeal Democrat from Nov. 15 to Nov. 18, 2015
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