John Joseph O' Shea
August 22, 1930 - April 17, 2023
Tribute to a Father, a Husband, and a Friend
John, or Jack, as he was known throughout his life, was born on his family farm, Inchamore, in Kenmare, County Kerry, in Ireland. He took great pride in pointing out that the farm had retained the ancient Irish names of the fields, proving that the O'Shea family had never been broken by the English occupation, and had survived the cruelties of Cromwell and the devastation of the famine. He was what was called in an earlier age "a man of honor". He lived by his word, and until the last day of his over ninety-two years, he kept his promises.
His mother, Julia, and his father, John, carried on the Irish tradition of fighting against the cruel English oppression of the native Irish Catholic population, while working hard to provide for the family from the small dairy farm. The family lineage included many heroes of the Irish rebellions, ranging from the martyred Lieutenant Denis Tuohy to firebrand Mike Quill, who served as a dispatch rider for the Irish Republican Army before escaping to New York and founding the Transport Union Workers of America. John and Julia had five children, John, Dennis, Jeremiah, Ellen, and Mary. John adored his brothers and sisters, and took great pride in their accomplishments, as well as those of his nieces and nephews. Growing up on the farm, family life revolved around hard work, honesty and integrity, study, the Catholic faith, and enjoying the glorious wildlife in the stunningly beautiful area.
Like so many young men in post war Ireland, John decided to head to New York City in 1949 in order to seek his destiny, and he was accompanied by his lifelong best friend and cousin, Phil Foley, along with a few other friends from Kenmare, like Patrick and Jerry Kissane. Upon arrival in New York, John immediately went to see his relative and countryman, Mike Quill, who found John a Union job and gave him twenty dollars as a start. John thoroughly enjoyed everything New York City had to offer in the 1950's and 1960's, and was known for his cheery disposition, quick wit, and kindness. He was a strong Union man throughout his life, and fought tirelessly for the rights of the oppressed, from supporting fellow Union workers to rallying support and demonstrating to raise awareness of Bobby Sands and the Hunger Strike. In 1966, he spotted a stunning brunette at a dance, and his heart was no longer his own. Bridget Laura Fahy was also a native of Ireland, from County Galway, and John swept her away for their first date to a picnic at Rockaway Beach in his red Ford Galaxie 500. He worked as a technician for Bell, and was a lifelong supporter of his Union as well as continuing to fight for freedom and social justice in Northern Ireland. Love conquers all, and they were married in April of 1967. In April of 2017, they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
John and Laura settled down to raise four children, Lorraine, Maureen, Audrey, and Dennis. Laura and John made sure that their children were raised to embody the values they brought from Ireland: hard work, respect for scholarship, honesty and integrity, the Catholic faith, and a sense of humor. John was known for his generosity and willingness to always help out anyone in need. The family circle expanded to include dear friends who were soon drawn in and became family members, enhancing and elevating the circle of love, loyalty and laughter around John, Laura, and their children.
One of John's lifelong fascinations was the wonders of nature. Laura was rather less enthusiastic, but good-naturedly tolerated the menagerie her husband and children brought home, from the baby alligator (who took up residence at the Bronx Zoo after outgrowing the Manhattan apartment); to Teddy, the noble Rottweiler; Rusty, the fun loving hound; and Scruffy, the tiny Yorkie terror. Of course, cats, hamsters, gerbils, mice, lizards, snapping turtles and a one-legged pheasant also found their way home to the big white house in Riverdale...all the way down to the pesky Zebra finch and guppies.
Throughout their fifty years of marriage, John and Laura shared a rare bond of love and devotion. When John suffered a terrible accident and literally broke his back in the late 1970's, she was there for him and their children every moment of every day.When Laura battled and beat a terminal cancer diagnosis in the 1980's, John was there for her and their children as well. However, even as difficult as the challenges they faced together were, they were eclipsed by the immense pride they had in sharing the accomplishments of their children. John and Laura embodied the famous quote from the great Irish writer, George Bernard Shaw, "A happy family is but an earlier Heaven."
John and Laura were overjoyed when Billy Willsea and Michael Mangan joined the family, but their happiness was complete as the grandchildren appeared. Keira, John, Ryan, Jonah and Katie were truly their absolute greatest happiness and source of pride. John and Laura adored their grandchildren and were enchanted by everything they are and everything they accomplish.
There is an old saying, "Call no man happy before he dies; he is at best but fortunate." John and his beloved Laura both had their challenges, trials and tribulations on this Earth, but they both lived a truly blessed life. Laura's last day was spent in happy anticipation of the annual Thanksgiving feast, surrounded by her husband and all her children and grandchildren, just as she had for the last five decades. She left us after spending her final day shopping, then chatting with her children, family, and friends. She treated herself to a slice of pumpkin pie with her after dinner tea, went to bed with the man she loved for over fifty years, and went peacefully to sleep for the last time. Now, five years later, John celebrated Easter with all his children and grandchildren, and died in his sleep in his own bed at the conclusion of the Easter Octave. We will not see his like again, and we were immensely blessed to have him as long as we did.We have no doubt that he is reunited with his beloved Laura, in life everlasting.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, April 20, 2023, from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Joseph F. Nardone Funeral Home, 414 Washington Street, Peekskill, NY.