Joseph William O’Connor ’79

Joseph William O’Connor, age 64, died suddenly from an aortic dissection on May 16, 2021 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Joe was born on March 31, 1957, in Tampa, Florida, to his parents, John Anthony O’Connor and Bessie Mae (Holmes) O’Connor. When he was seven years old, his family moved to Fort Myers, Florida. Growing up as the youngest of six children can be tough, and Joe’s personality was shaped by his family and natural talents. He was quite independent and quiet, and as a young boy taught himself to type and operate a Telex machine at Plantation Foods, his parent’s employer. His ability to focus intensely for hours and days was obvious early on.

Joe loved reading, learning new skills, and diving into outdoor activities. He excelled in water skiing, soccer, football, running (multiple marathons, triathlons), and spelunking. He biked across Ireland and Wales and immersed himself in swimming the Tampa Bay waters.

Joe, along with his brothers, was an active Boy Scout, camping, earning merit badges, and learning to appreciate southwest Florida nature. He was also an altar boy, rising early to help conduct Catholic mass and then attend Catholic grade and high school.

Joe attended Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Florida, where he was co-captain of the football team. In his senior year, a football teammate told him about Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, and he applied and received a football scholarship. He loved his liberal arts education at Davidson and enjoyed many wonderful friendships there. Although his degree was in Economics, he spent numerous hours working in Davidson’s computer lab (those were the early days of computers), which sparked his lifelong affinity for technology.

After college, Joe lived in St. Joseph, Missouri, for four years, working with his oldest brother, John. He then moved to St. Louis to complete his MBA in Finance and Accounting at Washington University in 1986.During his final year there, he met a fellow bicyclist, a native St. Louisan named Maureen, on a sweltering Labor Day weekend two-day organized bike ride. After both Joe and Maureen were too shy to exchange contact information, they unexpectedly met again three months later and started their lifelong adventures together. They married in 1988, and their “just married” vehicle was a tandem bicycle.

Joe’s employment and Maureen’s education took them from Missouri to Indiana and then Maryland, and they ultimately settled in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1995. Their long-awaited dream came true when their daughter Meara was born in 2000.Joe and Meara shared a very special connection in their father/daughter relationship. Joe always made it a priority to provide her with the utmost empathy, love and guidance.

Joe’s career included many roles in technology consulting, project management, business operations, and most recently, cybersecurity compliance consulting. He was most satisfied when he could analyze and improve systems, whether he was a paid consultant or a tireless volunteer.

Joe was a person of service, and those he loved were the fortunate recipients of this thoughtfulness and generosity. He listened completely and took action with a full heart. Those who loved him knew they could ask him for any assistance, and it would be provided without question or hesitation. Joe has been described as having a phenomenally incisive-retentive mind, in addition to being quick with smile, a laugh, a compliment, and a kind and appreciative word.He was earnest and attentive, often the voice of calm and reason in charged situations.

Joe was passionate about the democratic process and was often involved in local elections. He was an avid supporter of Meara’s schools and activities—SunFlower School, Club Sport Kids soccer, Lady Green Devils Lacrosse team, St. Petersburg High School’s Green Devil Band, and the SPHS International Baccalaureate Boosters. He coached, he cheered, he served on advisory boards, and he ran concession stands. In addition to volunteering for Meara’s activities, he supported other organizations, including St. Pete Maker Space and the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association. Where there was a need, there was Joe.

Joe doted on his cats, and his recent focus was helping his beloved old kitty Duke to eat more. He used one of his favorite tools, a spreadsheet, to help him track Duke’s likes and dislikes.

Anyone who knew Joe knew that he was dedicated to the renewal of Maureen’s and his Mediterranean-style St. Pete house built in 1920.He attended to every task with great attention to detail and quality, finding the home’s history and inner workings a source of constant fascination. Maureen and Meara are eager to finish the renovation in his memory and hope he looks over them with smiles of satisfaction and approval.

Joe is survived by his wife, Maureen Corbett, his daughter, Meara O’Connor, and his siblings, Patricia Reynolds (Marshall), Michael O’Connor (Sharon), and Charles O’Connor (Cindy Bear).He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Bessie Mae O’Connor, and his brothers, John Patrick O’Connor (Mary), and James Walter O’Connor (Frances).He had numerous beloved nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and in-laws whom he enjoyed very much. He also had enduring friendships with his former schoolmates, colleagues, and neighbors.

A memorial gathering will be planned, with details posted at this site at a later date. For more information, you are welcome to contact his wife, Maureen Corbett, at 727-692-6194.

In lieu of flowers, the extended family has set up a GoFundMe to offset Meara’s college expenses (, or donations can be made to the St. Pete High Green Devil Band ( or SunFlower School (by sending a check payable to SunFlower School, 5313 27th Avenue S, Gulfport, FL 33707 or donating via Zelle,

From the bottom of their hearts, Maureen and Meara wish to thank everyone who has expressed so much love and support since his passing. We will love him forever.