It is with great sadness that the family of retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Donald Gerald O’Hara of Warrenton announces his passing on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at the age of 88 years.
“The Colonel” will be heartbreakingly missed and lovingly remembered by his family and friends including his children: Kevin (Kim) O’Hara, Meghan (Jamie) O’Hara, Kathleen (Toby) Marvin, and Sean (Andrea) O’Hara; grandchildren: Jason (Autumn), Jennifer, Kelly (Joey) Lawrence, Katie, Conor, Liam, Cullen, Ian, Lindsey; great-grandchildren: Savanah & Madison; and his brother Edward (Barb). He will also be missed by his relatives and many dear friends, especially his loving companion, Betty Snider. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edward & Catherine O’Hara; his sister, Patty Rodgers; and his wife, Connie O’Hara.
Don graduated from Lincoln High School in Ellwood City, Pa., after having an outstanding athletic career since sixth grade. While in high school, he lettered for three years in both basketball and football, was the captain of the football team during his senior year and also the captain of the basketball team for his junior and senior years. “Duke” became Ellwood City’s Outstanding Athletic Personality for 1947-48.
Don was offered a full football scholarship at Penn State College, and at that time following World War II all freshman were required to play at California State College of Pennsylvania their first year. Don decided not to move to Penn State (because they wouldn't pay for his books) and completed his athletics and studies at Cal State. While there he lettered all four years in both football and basketball, was the captain of both teams for his junior and senior years and was the first Vulcan to reach the 1,000-point plateau. While at Cal State, he played in the 1951 Pythian Bowl, and even though they lost the game, 13-6, Don scored the only touchdown for Cal. He also lettered two years in baseball. He graduated in 1952 and was inducted into the California University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.
After graduation from Cal with a degree in secondary education, Don enlisted in the Air Force because he said that he wanted to “save the world for democracy.” His military career lasted over 25 years of enlisted and officer service. During those years he earned a Masters of Education from Auburn University, and received many outstanding honors including: an Air Medal with three clusters, a Meritorious Service Medal with one cluster, a Commendation Medal with two clusters, a Joint Services Commendation Medal and a Presidential Citation. Don retired from the Air Force after serving as a B-47 pilot including 10 years in Strategic Air Command, B-36 navigator/bombardier, diplomat to Sweden, professor of aerospace studies at Allegheny College, and Commander of the Air Force Junior ROTC at McDowell High School in Erie, Pa., for the final 13 years of his career.
Whether known as Dad, The Colonel, Duke, Don or Grandpa, his legacy will live forever because of his innate ability to make you feel as if you were the most important person in the world. He had a profound impact on many, many lives.
Burial, with full military honors, will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a date still to be determined. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made in Lt. Col. Donald G. O'Hara’s name to Capital Caring Hospice, Wounded Warrior, or the US Air Force Association.
The family would like to especially thank The Villa of Suffield Meadows in Warrenton for taking such good care of their father this past year.