Thomas Paul O'Connor
August 6, 1943 – March 25, 2021
Tom, a proud veteran of the Navy Air corps has taken his last flight and gone to be with his Lord Jesus. Tom died on March 25,2021
Tom was born August 6,1943 in Portland to Thomas Gregory and Eleanor Carlson O'Connor. In 1945 the O'Connor family moved to Peaks Island, a place where Tom was happy living.
In 1949 Tom contacted polio in 98 percent of the muscles of his entire body, something that caused him many problems for the rest of his life. But it did not stop him from working hard and serving his country polio residuals or no polio residuals.
Tom graduated from Peaks Island Grammar School in 1957. That same year the O'Connor family moved back to Portland and in 1959, while a junior at Cheverus High School, Tom became a licensed Amateur Radio Operator. His call sign was KN1IZA, later K1IZA. He held that call sign for the rest of his life. Tom was on the swimming team at Cheverus and swam 5 miles per day, 5 days per week and won 141 points over the course of 4 years because he desperately wanted to see his team win meets.
In 1960, while still a Senior in high school Tom joined the U.S. Navy Air Corps at South Weymouth, Massachusetts. He became an AX-2 and earned his Navy Air Crew Wings.
In 1963 Tom became a certified scuba diver, something he loved doing.
In 1965 Tom was sent to Pensacola Naval Air Station to become a pilot. But his lifelong dream of being a Navy pilot was destroyed when the Navy doctors told him he had been 4-F all his life because of the polio he had at age 6 years and they were sending him home with an honorable discharge after 4 years, 9 months, and 29 days of service.
Tom came back home and graduated from Gorham State College in 1969. That same year he joined the Portland Fire Department. He also started selling short stories to magazines and newspapers on a free-lance basis. He sold his first story to Down East Magazine and later to Skin Diver Magazine, Under Water USA newspaper, the Maine Sunday Telegram, Employment Times newspaper, Yankee Diver Magazine, and Steamboat Bill Magazine.
In 1971 Tom joined the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department Dive Team. He resigned from the Fire Department in 1983 and went to work for Portland Diving Service as a commercial diver.
Tom went on to work at Bath Iron Works in 1987 in the Welding department where he was a first class welder / ship fitter. At BIW Tom was often called a "Bull" because he worked so hard. Tom retired from BIW in 2004.
In 2009 Tom met the love of his life, Josephine Cayacap, and they were married in Tagum City, Philippines in 2010. Tom never had any children of his own, but he had 1 foster child through the DHS, and sponsored many children through a charity called World Vision from 1990 until the end of his life. Tom's nephew Patrick used to say that there are no kids who don't like Uncle Tom. Tom had 9 nephews and nieces and countless numbers of grandnephews and grandnieces and loved every one of them.
Tom was also like a big brother to a little boy named Scott Sparks. Scott called Tom, Uncle Tom and they enjoyed many hours together reading books, going to the Children’s' Museum, bowling and doing other kid type things.
For 42 years Tom was the Head Usher for the 5:30 mass at Holy Martyrs' Church in Falmouth. When Tom's health forced him to retire from that job, Father Tracy gave him a nice tribute from the altar.
In his younger years Tom was a Boy Scout at Troop 18 at the Cathedral in Portland and earned the rank of Eagle. Tom was also a Golden Eagle at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Portland, and a member of the Falmouth Rod and Gun Club, as well as a member of the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Navy VP Association. Tom was also a member of American Legion, Harold T. Andrews Post 17 where he was the Post photographer for many years and took pictures of post events and wrote articles about them that were published in the Maine Legionnaire News Paper.
Tom enjoyed many things, boats, ships, scuba diving, and anything to do with the ocean. He also enjoyed history, coin collecting and gun collecting for the things of history that he learned from them. He enjoyed taking his red 1974 corvette to the Cumberland Auto show and talking with his many friends there. He especially loved doing anything that helped other people. But he was happiest taking Josephine's daughter Keyna for walks where they looked for big dogs to pat.
Tom wishes everyone to know that he forgives everyone that he had grievances against and hopes that everyone who has grievances against him will forgive him also. We wish to thank Maine Medical Center, and especially Doctor Christian Thomas and his wonderful staff for the excellent care given to Tom over these last 10 plus years. We also wish to thank the people at Southern Maine Hospice. Tom wishes to thank the Philippine people who have taken him in as a member of their families. Tom would like to thank the members of Post 17 Harold T. Andrews, American Legion on Deering Street, in Portland for their help and especially Josephine Cayacap for all the days and nights when she spent so much time caring for Tom and administering his medicines with more loving care than anyone else could possibly have done. I love you Josephine.
- Thomas Gregory O'Connor, Father (deceased)
- Eleanor Carlson O'Connor, Mother (deceased)
Thomas Paul O'Connor
April 10, 2021
I met my cousin, Tommy, just a few years ago, so I never knew him growing up. I was always struck by how much he knew and retained about our families. He knew minor details that added so much to my understanding of people long passed. I truly appreciated that. If you knew Tommy at all, you knew he was a talker! He had a rich, full life and he liked to share his experiences with others. I shall miss all the knowledge he had yet to pass on and the laughter we would share over some story or even an opinion, as he had a lot of those too! You will be missed cousin, Tommy, by your cousin, Didi, but I am glad to have known you at all. Rest In Peace.