William R. ‘Oakie’/’Coach’ O’Connor

October 15, 2016

William R. ‘Oakie’/’Coach’ O’Connor

WILLIAM R. “OAKIE”/“COACH” O’CONNOR- of Woburn, October 15th, seventy-two years of age. Beloved husband of Kathleen A. (Conway) O’Connor. Devoted father of Patrick J. O’Connor, his wife Jennifer Breen O’Connor of Weymouth and Caitlin O’Connor Balwin, her husband Matthew of NH. Dear brother of John O’Connor, his wife Lois of FL, James O’Connor of Woburn and the late Edward J. O’Connor, Jr., Katherine McGann and Lawrence O’Connor. Cherished grandfather of Jake C. and Ryan J. Baldwin. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to call Wednesday, October 19th, from 3:00-8:00 p.m. at Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn. Plans for a Memorial Celebration will be announced in the coming weeks. Remembrances may be made in Coach’s memory to the Woburn Memorial High Scholarship Fund, in memory of William “Coach” O’Connor, P.O. Box 202, Woburn, MA 01801.

OBITUARY

William R. “Oakie/Coach” O’Connor, life long Woburn resident and long time Woburn High School Track Coach, passed away at the Lahey Clinic, Saturday October fifteenth. The beloved husband of Kathleen A. (Conway) O’Connor, he was seventy-two years of age.

Born in Woburn he was the son of the late Edward J. and Helen (Wallace) O’Connor.

One of six children “Oakie” as he had been called since a youngster, was raised and educated here in Woburn, graduating from Woburn High School with the Class of 1961. All throughout high school “Oakie” participated in all the track activities, indoor, outdoor and cross-country. He had a love for the sport, which he carried on to Northeastern University, where he was a significant contributor to the “Huskies” track team during his college career there. Graduating with a B.S. in Physical Education from Northeastern University in 1968, he went on to begin his teaching career as a Physical Education Teacher at Southborough Middle School, where he remained for over the next thirty-six years.

While in college “Oakie” met a wonderful young lady in Boston one evening, Kathy Conway. They began dating and in 1970 they were married and together they journeyed together for over forty-six years. They brought two children into the world of whom he was most proud. They made their home in the West Side of Woburn, which was Oakie’s family homestead and remained there over the years. Summertime vacations to Cape Cod began when the children were small and continued over time. As the children ventured off to college they would often visit, whether near or abroad, which provided them a wonderful trip to Ireland to visit their daughter while studying. Sanibel Island or Ft. Myers Beach he and Kathy would be sure to catch a Red Sox game, but more importantly the Northeastern “Huskies” baseball team would be there for a scrimmage with the Red Sox!

It was in Northborough that he began his coaching career as a Gymnastics Coach. The team he coached became a very storied dynasty… having become the State Champs after several years of not so good performances. That was the beginning of a phenomenal career, not in gymnastics but in track! In 1972, he began coaching track at the Algonquin Regional High School where he coached from 1972 until 1985. During this time “Coach” which now became his nickname, took his teams to many state titles, championships and ultimate individual and group performances for many of his tracksters.

In 1986 “Coach “came home! ” He began coaching at Woburn High School cross country team and that wonderful beam of success followed. The track program at Woburn High School became an outstanding and well-admired team throughout the Middlesex League and State with “Coach” at the helm. The awards were bountiful for “Coach” having received; Massachusetts State Hall of Fame Coach, recognized over the years by both the Boston Globe and Herald Newspapers All Scholastic Hall of Fame Coach (several times) Algonquin Regional High School Hall of Fame, served as a Track and Field State Official, served on the planning board for the MSTCA, a member of the Varsity Club at Northeastern and served as an Official for the Boston Marathon.

Over thirty years ago he began “Fun Runs” for the children of Woburn, down at Horn Pond; well now that has been growing ever since it started and presently serves from pre school to seniors and has participants galore! The bridge down at the Pond, the “start” and “finish” lines of the Fun Run and the track at the Joyce Middle School are all areas throughout the city that have been recognized in the name and honor of “Coach”s” love, support and true and natural dedication above and beyond to the sport of running.

A Trivia expert, a Seinfeld enthusiast, “Coach” thoroughly enjoyed music from the 50’s and 60’s. He also had a wonderful gift of being very creative artistically. Pen, ink, pencil, watercolors, he was a very talented artist.

A very good, thoughtful and incredibly kind gentleman “Coach” was one amazing man. His love for his family was strong and unshakeable, his chosen profession throughout his lifetime touched the lives of many, many children across the state and an awful lot right here in his “hometown” of Woburn. Coach was truly a strong formidable presence in this life, who right up until last Tuesday was right there on the sideline, continuing to be the man that he was throughout his entire life, “Coach” leading the team on to another victory and greeting them at the finish line.

Sadly coach was predeceased by his parents, his siblings Edward J. O’Connor, Jr., Catherine McGann and Lawrence O’Connor.

He is lovingly survived by his beloved wife Kathy, his children Patrick J. O’Connor, his wife Jennifer Breen O’Connor of Weymouth and Caitlin O’Connor Baldwin, her husband Matthew of NH. Dear brother of John O’Connor, his wife Lois of FL, James O’Connor of Woburn . Cherished grandfather of Jake C. and Ryan J. Baldwin. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to call Wednesday, October 19th, from 3:00-8:00 p.m. at Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn. Plans for a Memorial Celebration will be announced in the coming weeks. Remembrances may be made in Coach’s memory to the Woburn Memorial High Scholarship Fund, in memory of William “Coach” O’Connor, P.O. Box 202, Woburn, MA 01801.

Guestbook

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  1. Dear Kathy, Patrick and Caitlin,
    I had the privilege of teaching with Bill in Southborough for over 30 years. Bill often spoke fondly about his wife and children. He was especially proud of Kathy’s success at Boston College and Patrick and Caitlin’s college running careers.
    Bill was the life of the party at social gatherings. He cherished the time he gave to coaching, always working hard to bring out the best in his athletes. As retirement neared, Bill once told me that he was looking forward to never again being late for team practice. Bill was well known for the road races he established.
    I am saddened by Bill’s passing, but I know he left behind many athletes who were better for having been coached by Coach O”Connor.
    Doug Somerville

  2. Pat,
    Your father was a great guy and I enjoyed working with him through the years. My condolences to all of his family.

    Bob Welch

  3. Dear Kathy, Patrick and Caitlin,

    I am so sorry to read about this and am thinking of you all. I have fond memories from our SCS days of your family, wonderful home and of course, Bandit. During one sleep-over, when Caitie and I finally rolled out of bed, he brightly greeted us with “Here come the chicks!” and then made us breakfast.

    Again, I’m so very sorry. I’ll be praying for you.

    Love, Susan Finn

  4. Chris Heyl
    It was a privilege to have been Coached by Coach and ARHS was fortunate to have him those many years. Catching up with him and several other alums earlier this past summer (thanks Rob H.) reminded all of us what a special person he was. May happier memories help sustain you Kathy & Family during this difficult time. He will be missed…

  5. Coach O’Connor inspired so many people to push their limits and believe in the best version of themselves. He was more than just a leader, but a mentor. Rest In Peace. May heaven give you tenfold what you gave to the world.
    Kaitlin D’Agostino

  6. To Kathy, Patrick and Caitlin – we are very sorry to hear of Coach’s passing. I’m glad I was able to speak w/ him on Oct 6, making plans to get together soon and asking him what I could do to run a faster 5K… I can’t tell you how much he meant to Algonquin Regional and the many athletes that learned so much from him. The Gunning Family will miss him dearly. Please know that we are thinking of you during this difficult time -“Okie” will be forever in our hearts. Much Love,
    Paul Gunning

  7. Stephen Curtis
    Band Director
    Southborough, MA

    Bill was and is a truly fine gentleman. He defines the word goodness. I taught with him for many years and saw what a positive influence he was on kids and everyone else around him. May he find joy and true bliss in his new home in heaven.

    Bill’s Friend,
    Steve Curtis

  8. Kathy, Patrick and Caitlin,

    I send my prayers to you all and offer my condolences. Bill was an incredible person to so many people, athletes and coaches alike. I was one of the many that was blessed to work with him at Algonquin and I remember so much of those days, but what I remember the most is how dedicated he was to his athletes and to his family. He taught me each and every day how important those qualities were and to always share your love with each other. Kathy, Patrick and Caitlin I am a better person for having met Bill.

    My wife Ann Marie and I send you our love and God Bless You.

    Joe Cummings
    20111 Big Bend Lane
    Huntington Beach, CA 92646

  9. ,,Kathy, Katie and Pat,,,Heartfelt Condolences From The Solorzano Family,,”Coach” was A Positive Influence and Mentor To Many!..He Will Be Sadly, Missed!. Kathy, Pepe,and Children

  10. Many good memories with Bill throughout the years. He was always a gentlemen with an even temper and a kind heart. He loved helping young people and dedicated his life to just that. Bill will be truly missed, but leaves his mark on life.
    Bob Rosenblatt

  11. Rest easy Coach…Thanks for everything xo
    To the O’Connor family our deepest sympathies

    Chris & Nancy Doherty & Family

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