On March 24th, 2013, just as he entered the world 92 years ago, our dear husband, father, brother and friend, Bob O'Connor, graduated from this life to the next, surrounded with the immense love that he has always inspired. His family, clasping his hands, walked with him all the way across the bridge as far as they could go until he had to continue on without them for now. But that was only a short chapter in his magnificent life.
Born in Los Angeles during the heyday of Hollywood glamour. One of his favorite activities as a boy, were adventures freely roaming the Hollywood hills with his beloved German Shepherd "Wolf" or with Wolf pulling him on roller skates through the streets. As a born entertainer, he had a starring role in the high school play at Hollywood High and had his brush with stardom and starlets. He was a truly great singer of ballads in the old Hollywood style. He continued throughout his life to find every opportunity to entertain his family, friends and community with his humor and talents. Notably, he was known to perform a love story between "John and Marsha" while dressed half as a man on one side of his body and a woman on the other. He also had one of the best Santa Claus routines a kid could ask for.
During WWII he built aircraft for Lockheed in Burbank where he resided. He was known for a little while as the "singing policeman" since he would drop into the local pub on his beat and perform. As he was a little too kind-hearted for police work, he became a fireman for the Burbank Fire Department; often steering the back of the hook and ladder. He was also known for livening up the department with his jovial humor and practical jokes, as well as dirtying every dish in the place when it was his turn to cook. Later he became a fire inspector for the Factory Mutual insurance company. Because of his boundless enthusiasm and creativity he was the proprietor of numerous successful business ventures: from catering luaus to selling his delicious cheesecake to popular Southern California restaurants to real estate investment. He moved to Redding in 1977 when he purchased the Riverland Mobile Home Ranch.
While for the last few years he preferred the quiet and comforting environment of his family, for most of his life he will be remembered also as an indefatigable community leader. As president of the Redding Optimist's club in the early 1980's he was the first to spearhead the move of the city's annual fireworks display to the Civic Auditorium grounds and set them to music. He was instrumental in a rebirth of fisheries conservation on Lake Shasta. He was also a man of hope and faith, active for many years as a loyal member of the congregation at the North Hollywood Church of Religious Science where he was famous for his pancake breakfasts and numerous other contributions. Bob wore many hats throughout his life, literally and figuratively, he was a true renaissance man.
By far and away however, that which he has always treasured most is his family. He was born to loving parents, Henry Stanchfield, (the son of one of the first Spanish Californios families on his mothers side and New Englanders who fought in the Revolutionary War on his fathers side); and his beloved mother Zuma Cowan, a lively woman from Texas. Sadly, he lost his father at a very young age. His stepfather, John O'Connor, soon appeared and became a loving father in every sense of the word. Bob has three children, Shawn, Laurie and Lisa, who have always known they are dearly loved. And his crowning jewels, his lovely grandchildren, Samantha, Madison and Austin.
But the single greatest blessing of his life was when he met his "my dear", his "butterfly", his wife Audrey of 51 years, his greatest and most loyal friend and partner in adventure. And while he was born an only child, he gained Audrey's eight other brothers and sisters when they so warmly welcomed him into the family.
Bob O'Connor is an unforgettable man who loved life and lived it to the fullest; the life of every party who made every occasion more festive, an artist, summer vacation planner extraordinaire, tour guide, a courageous explorer, and his soul's journey continues...
The family is planning a celebration of life at a later date.
Published in Redding Record Searchlight on May 8, 2013