Cover photo for John H. O'Hara's Obituary
John H. O'Hara Profile Photo
1934 John 2021

John H. O'Hara

January 13, 1934 — October 11, 2021

Dr. John O’Hara lived a VERY full life taking advantage of every moment to make the world a better place for his family and his country. He was affectionately known as “Dad,” “Grandpa,” “Uncle Buddy,” “Dr. John,” or “Mr. Buc” by those who loved him. He passed away on Monday, October 11, 2021 from prostate cancer. John was born on January 13, 1934 in the tiny Appalachian town of Bunola, Pennsylvania where he was raised by his mother Florence O’Hara and step-father, John Smith. The family grew with the addition of his little sister, Ida Mary. While growing up in the Pittsburg area he developed his diehard love for all Pittsburg sports teams but most importantly, the Pirates and Steelers. At the age of 17, after graduating from Elizabeth High School, he decided to serve his country and joined the US Air force during the Korean War. He served as a bombardier/navigator on B-47 strategic bombers. That was the beginning of a whole new world for him. While in the Air Force, John was stationed in Tucson, Arizona where he met the love of his life, Merrily. From that day forward, their love flourished. They married in 1958 and their first son, Timothy, was born. After John earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, they moved to California briefly for a job opportunity. In 1961, they moved to Camden, New Jersey where their second son, Robin, was born. The family settled in Bowie, Maryland when John acquired a job with the National Security Agency (NSA) in 1962 and he continued his service to the country. He served in technical and management positions, then after attending the National War College, he was elevated to the rank of Senior Executive. He served in several senior leadership capacities and was NSA’s Deputy Chief Scientist when he retired in 2000. His colleagues often told the family that he was one of the smartest people they had ever met or worked with and some called him “my hero.” In 1975, their daughter, Heather, was born. That is when John started his passionate mission to take down Big Tobacco and fight for non-smokers’ rights. He started and served as president for the Bowie Group Against Smokers’ Pollution (Bowie GASP) which later became Maryland GASP. He fought tirelessly to pass laws to outlaw smoking indoors at all workplaces including stores, hospitals, restaurants, bars, casinos, and sporting venues. John was responsible for getting NSA to go smoke-free and eventually the rest of the US Government followed suit. Throughout John’s life, he was able to accomplish so many of his goals, including traveling the world, getting anti-smoking laws passed, receiving many lifetime achievement awards, earning a patent, and helping to launch satellites. He earned master’s degrees from University of Pennsylvania and the National War College and his PhD from the Catholic University of America, becoming a professor at George Washington University. He enjoyed the ride too. He raised his three children and spent every bit of time he could with his grandchildren. He loved the outdoors, fishing, crabbing, and hunting with his sons. He always looked forward to floating the Allegheny River annually with his best friend from childhood. He enjoyed attending professional sporting events as well as those sporting events of his children and grandchildren. He was an avid long-distance runner and completed seven marathons, including Boston, New York and the Marine Corp. He played in the Pittsburg Pirates Fantasy Camp. He learned to figure skate and performed in ice shows. He also loved going on adventures with his nieces and nephew and of course making time for a loving relationship with his wife, Merrily. In 2019, John received the “Key to the City” award from the town of Elizabeth, PA where he is also in the Elizabeth Forward High School “Hall of Fame” for his many achievements and service to our country. John served in leadership positions in the following organizations: - Bowie Group Against Smokers’ Pollution (GASP) (founder and president) - Maryland Group Against Smokers’ Pollution (MDGASP) (founder and president) - St. Pius X Church Parish Counsel - Bowie Figure Skating Club (president) - American Cancer Society Bowie Chapter - The Association of Old Crows, which advocates for electronic warfare and information operations. John is survived by his loving wife, Merrily O’Hara. Also surviving are son and daughter-in-law: Timothy D. & Colleen O’Hara, daughter and son-in-law: Heather and Jason Tawney, sister and brother-in-law: Ida Mary and Regis Gouker, and brother-in-law: Harry Hoppe. Also surviving John are his loving grandchildren Kathryn O’Hara, Christine Puhl, Aaron James O’Hara and Timothy R. O’Hara. John is also survived by his nieces, their husbands and children: Ida Elizabeth & Allen Householder and their two children and Teri and Louis Chavez and their two children, and nephew and wife: Mitchell & Yvonne Hoppe and their two children. John is predeceased by his devoted parents: Florence and John Smith, his beloved son, Robin J. O’Hara, his mother-in-law and father-in-law: Frieda and Harold Hoppe, his sister-in-law: Shirley Hoppe, and his step-grandson: Matthew Thomas. His legacy will live on through all those that he loved, raised, taught, mentored, coached, and competed with. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society or Hospice of Chesapeake.
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, October 28, 2021

2:00 - 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Visitation

Thursday, October 28, 2021

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Friday, October 29, 2021

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

St. Pius X Catholic Church

14720 Annapolis Rd, Bowie, MD 20715

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