Newburyport, MA — John Roderic O’Connor, son of the late John and Florence Hurley O’Connor, lost his valiant battle with emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis early Monday morning, the 13th of January 2014. Born in New York City on November 14, 1933, John, known to all far and wide as Roddy, was educated at Deerfield Academy and Princeton University, where he earned both the B.A. in English and the Ph.D. in Nineteenth Century French Literature.
After college, Roddy spent five years with the U.S. Army Intelligence services, attached to NATO Headquarters outside of Paris, France. It was during these years that he met and married Olga Lapkoff, who predeceased him. Returning to the United States in 1960, Roddy joined Doubleday as a book editor. Later he began what was to become his life’s vocation: teaching, first at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey, and later at the University of Michigan, Bradford College in Massachusetts, The Koç Özel Lisesi in Istanbul, and finally the Anglo-American School of Casablanca in Morocco.
Interspersed over these years, Roddy also served as the Director of the University of Michigan and Wisconsin’s School Year Abroad program in Aix en Provence, Associate Director of the Lacoste School for the Arts, in the South of France, and Director of Docents at the Peabody Essex Museum, formerly the Essex Institute, in Salem, Massachusetts.
A noted scholar, raconteur, and bon vivant, Roddy was fluent in French and could converse, as well, in Spanish and Turkish, and had familiarity with German. His insatiable curiosity was supported by extensive world travels and deep and varied reading on a remarkable range of subjects from Aristotle and Montaigne to the history of Mexico, the anthropological work of Ruth Benedict, and the literature of Borges and Balzac, about whose work Roddy wrote his doctoral dissertation.
In retirement, Roddy continued to travel and read and learn, living first in the New Hampshire towns of Hampton Falls and Kensington, and later in Le Faouet, Brittany, France, where he made his home for the last six years of his beloved wife Olga’s life. During their 53 years of marriage, Roddy and Olga’s shared passion for creating a life well-lived and for sharing abundantly with friends and family their legendary hospitality (not to mention culinary masterpieces and fine wine), made them beloved by all who were fortunate enough to have known them.
Roddy is survived by his four children, Ania, Kolia, Nina, and Vania, and their families, including John and Connor Jednak (Ania’s husband and son), Susan, Gus, and Alex (Kolia’s wife and sons), Tom Bullard (Nina’s fiancé), and Barbara, Patrick, Nicole, and Evan (Vania’s wife and children).
ARRANGEMENTS: By request of the family, services will be private. Arrangements are by Elliott, Woodoworth & Rogers Family Funeral Home, Newburyport, MA.