Thomas Daniel O’Connor (Tom) passed away on November 26, 2021 in Albuquerque, NM at the age of 93. Tom was born in Sidney, Montana on November 11, 1928 to Charles and Mary Ellen (Buckley) O’Connor. He grew up on the family ranch near Andes, MT with his 5 siblings and 11 first cousins. His father and Uncles Jim and Leo O’Connor homesteaded in the same area and raised their families together. Life growing up on the ranch was full of hard work, adventure, and close family bonds in which cousins grew up more as siblings. Tom attended a one room schoolhouse on the ranch for grades 1 through 8 and attended Culbertson high school where he excelled at every sport he tried. He graduated from Culbertson high school in 1947 and began his college education at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. While at Marquette he enlisted in the US Navy during the Korean War and served 22 months. After serving in the Navy he completed his Bachelors degree in History and Political Science in 1952 at the University of Montana. He then attended the University of Montana law school for a little over a year when he realized he wasn’t interested in pursuing a legal career.
One of Tom’s first jobs after leaving law school was at JC Penney’s in Billings, MT. Over the course of the next 5 decades Tom worked in the furniture business, relocating frequently around the southwest in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and New Mexico. Tom was a fantastic salesman and was often asked to manage closeout sales which suited his nomadic lifestyle. While working for Levy Brothers Furniture he moved to Anchorage, AK for a year in 1990. After retirement Tom settled in Albuquerque, NM in 2006 where he enjoyed making new friends in his senior living apartment complex and staying engaged with world affairs.
Tom always had a great deal of intellectual curiosity and made an effort to learn the culture and history of every place he lived. He enjoyed visits from his many nieces, nephews, siblings, and cousins and specialized in fast paced express tours of the local sites and attractions. He never wanted to stop learning and enjoyed taking community college classes. While visiting him in Las Vegas over Christmas 2001, only a few months after 9/11, he was taking classes at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in Middle Eastern history. Tom was also the family comedian and loved to make people laugh. If my mother was on the phone laughing to the point of tears I always knew she was talking to Tom.
Tom is survived by his siblings, Kathleen Hagan of Williston, ND, Charles (Doris) O’Connor of Yakima, WA, Helen Manaras of Havre, MT, and many cousins and nieces and nephews who will all miss him greatly. He was preceded in death by his sister, Mary Hardy, of Sidney, MT and brother, Gerald O’Connor, of Wausau, WI.
The family would like to thank Mary-Frances O’Connor, Ph.D. for her care and assistance with Tom during his last days.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Friends of the Sandia Mountains (www.friendsofthesandias.org).
Dec 4, 2021