Joseph Michael O'Loughlin, 66, passed away on June 25, 2014. He was born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., to Thomas and Agnes O'Loughlin. He entered the seminary and graduated in 1965 with fond memories of performing in musicals, playing football and basketball. He returned home each summer to work on the family farm. He completed his bachelors and masters in Education at South East Missouri State University. He served for two years in the U.S. Army artillery, stationed for some time in Germany, and was honorably discharged in 1971.
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Michael settled in Gainesville, Fla., in 1973 and worked as a counselor in various settings. He also worked as a diving instructor and store manager at Allen's Aquatic and Trail Shop. He worked briefly as a diving instructor in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He enjoyed introducing people to scuba diving, the beauty of the ocean and of the springs and reefs he led them to.
He worked as Dean of Students and Director of Guidance Services at Buchholz High School, during the 1980s. While working at Buchholz, he completed a PhD in Educational Leadership at the University of Florida. He next accepted a position as director of research and assessment for the Chattanooga, Tenn., public schools.
After two years, Michael returned to Florida in 1995 as assistant director of the St. Augustine Technical Center, where he met his future wife, Donna King. From 2000 to 2005, he served as principal of St. Augustine High School where students and staff referred to him as "Dr. O" or "The Bus Driver," providing students with guidance and direction through an important part of life's journey. Students also remember fondly his "walk and talk, walk and talk" mantra as he ushered students with a firm voice and a ready smile through the halls. Showing his Irish heritage, bagpipes were added to the graduation ceremony. He later acted as director of various programs for the St. Johns County School Board. Michael O'Loughlin was an educational administrator who was known for his student-focused philosophy, earning the trust and respect of all who worked with him. He retired in 2011.
He was a warm and caring husband, brother and friend, and was a great listener who always led conversations away from himself. He made students and friends feel valued. He performed five weddings as a favor to his friends. He very much loved his wife of 17 years, Donna King. He also loved their numerous pets who they treated like their children. He enjoyed reading, gardening, hiking, biking, canoeing and all things to do with nature.
He is survived by his wife, Donna, and siblings, Thomas (Theresa), Timothy (Mary), Patrick, Martha, Mary and Daniel (Judy). He will be sorely missed by his wife, family and all who knew him.
A celebration of his life for family and friends will be held at a later date.
Those wishing may make a contribution in his memory to SAFE, PAWS Pet Rescue Centers or the Florida Nature Conservancy.
Published in St. Augustine Record on July 11, 2014