George M. O'Hara
George M. Oâ€™Hara, former all-star East Detroit athlete, father, brother, grandfather, husband, and friend to many, died on March 29, 2020, in Clinton Township, MI, of complications from COPD. He was 71.
In the end, it was simply too exhausting being George. Being George meant bottomless generosity to friends and family, exquisite loyalty to both, hilarious wit and a lifelong practice of unconditional love. Never wanting to be an inconvenience to anyone, especially family, George insisted â€œIâ€™m fine!â€ up until the minute he entered hospice.
Born August 11, 1948, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, to George and Viola â€œSisâ€ Oâ€™Hara, George was the middle of 7 children: Tom, Ed, Pat, Carol, Joyce, and Jerry. His parents owned Oâ€™Haraâ€™s Bar in East Detroit, where he learned to breeze through life as an easygoing, uplifting guy, and world-class prankster.
From 1964 to 1967, George followed in his brother Tomâ€™s footsteps as a predominant East Detroit High School athlete, excelling in football (quarterback), basketball (point guard), and baseball (shortstop). As a point guard, Oâ€™Hara led the Shamrocks in assists and scored a career total of 664 points. Named to several all-city, all-conference and all-state teams, George went on to play Division I basketball at Eastern Michigan University for one year. He played in the American Legion all-star baseball game at Tiger Stadium in 1967, leading the league with a .382 battling average.
After leaving college, George began a long career at beer wholesaler Petitpren Inc., in Clinton Township, MI, retiring in 1990. He made life-long friends at Petitpren, many he still spoke to on a regular basis.
George married Pam Simons, and became a father in 1967, when daughter Heather was born. It was as a father that George found his true calling. Heather was followed by the twins, Brandee and Brent, and then the baby, Jonathon.
His children learned the meaning of family from George. They have vivid early memories of cuddling in his arms for naps and quiet time. To his kids, George was always on hand for a needed hug or kiss, and for slipping them an extra twenty, along with a â€œDonâ€™t tell momâ€ wink. His generosity extended to his kidsâ€™ friends, too. He loved to give a $50 tip on a $25 meal, if one waited on him. When George bought himself a new convertible and his daughter soon took charge of it, George readily went along with the plan.
Saying â€œI love youâ€ was one of Georgeâ€™s best habits.
Family love and sports went hand in hand in Georgeâ€™s world. He proudly cheered on family in all sporting endeavors, and coached many local kidsâ€™ teams.
By all accounts, Georgeâ€™s favorite spot on earth was The Oâ€™Haraâ€™s Cottage, on Wixom Lake, his family retreat from childhood on. One of Georgeâ€™s enduring legacies is how he loved to gather his family at the cottage, then sit back and enjoy the fun.
He whipped up his go-to foods, goulash and meatloaf, for whatever the occasion. If a new group stayed at the cottage and he was irritated they were sleeping in, George sat at the kitchen table and yelled, â€œFire! Thereâ€™s a fire! Everyone get up, grab your stuff, get the hell out!â€ George famously water-skied barefoot, leaving an indelible memory for family and friends.
Always the optimist, George had already claimed his â€œweekâ€ for this upcoming summer.
George brought the fun with him wherever he went, and never faced the world without a smile. He made sure every moment spent with him was memorable. One of Georgeâ€™s sisters called him Felix the Cat, as he made it through, at minimum, 9 lives. George spent a lifetime plotting and carrying out pranks -- on his sisters, brothers, in-laws, and whoever else he thought might be in need of a dose of George. George was generous to, well, a fault. If he had a buck and you needed two, heâ€™d find a way to get it for you. George had friends everywhere, and most all of them have a George story. He didnâ€™t judge others; he welcomed all into his circle, with open arms.
Perhaps George showed his kind heart best through his 30-year friendship with Lenny Morris. Lenny took George everywhere and helped him with whatever he needed, and they meant the world to each other. Georgeâ€™s world most certainly became emptier when Lenny passed, in October 2019. Georgeâ€™s family is forever grateful to Lenny for the love and care he showed George during his more difficult years.
George is loving father to Heather (John) Kaptrosky, Brent Oâ€™Hara, Brandee (Scott) Gardiner, Jonathon (Michelle) Oâ€™Hara. Beloved grandfather of Klaire, Jack and Kate Kaptrosky, Olivia, Sophia and Teague Oâ€™Hara, Connor Gardiner, McKenzee (Jake) Borzick, Henry and Teddy Oâ€™Hara. Cherished brother of Patricia (Ray) Dries, Carol Lapinski, Joyce (Lenny) Santamaria, Jerry (JoAnne) Oâ€™Hara, and sister-in-law Barbara Oâ€™Hara. George is also survived by several nieces, nephews, cousins, and many close friends
George was preceded in death by his parents, George and Sis, his brothers Tom and Ed Oâ€™Hara, and sister-in-law Jane, and nephew Jeff Santamaria.
A private family visitation will be held at the A.H. Peters Funeral Home of Grosse Pointe Woods. The family will announce a formal memorial service at a later date. Memorials are suggested to the â€œWishes of the Familyâ€ and a donation will be made to a local youth athletic charity in the coming days in Georgeâ€™s honor.
George will be missed by many, and will forever be remembered in the hearts of his family and friends. There is no pain, only peace.