Michael John O’Connor
Michael (Mike) John O’Connor, born October 14, 1951 in Glens Falls New York, a long-time resident of Cocoa Beach, Florida passed away April 26, 2019 in Rockledge, FL. Mike was the son of Francis Scott O’Connor and Bernadette Ann Jones of Queensbury, New York. Mike was a 1970 graduate of Queensbury High School and attended Florida Institute of Technology. He was a Vietnam Era Army veteran.
Mike learned his cooking skills while in the Army and for many years he worked as a chef at several Florida restaurants including The Pier in Cocoa Beach and was the banquet chef at the Holiday Inn, also in Cocoa Beach. According to many who worked with Mike his culinary skills were unparalleled. Some restaurants added Mike’s special recipes to their regular menus.
Mike was predeceased by his parents and nephew Allen J. Trombley, Jr. and niece Laura Lee Stark. He is survived by four sisters Katie (Peter) Cassidy of Gulfport, FL, Linda (David) Reynolds of Cape Canaveral, FL, Kathleen Stark of Stillwater, NY, Elizabeth (Allen) Trombley of Tupper Lake, NY and his nephew Wilfred Michael Stark III and nieces, Angela Reynolds, Valarie Stark and Kathleen Fronhofer.
Mike’s canine companion, Buddy is so happy because of his Dad’s arrival in heaven so they can play fetch forever.
Mike also was long-time friends with Kevin Kelley of Merritt Island, FL. Mike’s fishing trips with Kevin and Kevin’s dad, George Kelley, were some of his most treasured times. Mike always thought of Kevin’s daughters Margaret and Kathleen as his special kids, attending many sporting events and other outings with them as they grew to adulthood. On one outing, Mike felt really bad when, just after the last picture of the day, he dropped the camera into deep water and all pictures were lost. There was one year that Mike was the only person to take a team picture of Margaret’s entire basketball team. Mike was very pleased when Margaret showed him the scrapbook that she had compiled of her sporting years especially since he had taken most of the pictures. A few years ago, Mike introduced Margaret to the world of Jimmy Buffett. They had a great time attending his concert.
He spent over a year touring the United States in his RV and adopted a small black and white furry bundle of joy whom he named Buddy. Buddy was Mike’s constant companion and rode on the back of Mike’s motorcycle, then learned to run next to Mike’s electric scooter when going for walks or shopping trips. Michael used to say such outrageous things to Buddy when other people were around, but he said them in a very lovingly voice, “Stupid dog!” “Get out of here, you good for nothing, rotten lazy dog!” and Buddy, of course would just stand there and wagging his tail and waiting to receive his dog treat.
Mike always looked forward to visits from his family, planning and going on outings with them when they were in town. He kept track of rocket launches and made sure his company was in a good place to view the launch. We went to the locks in Cape Canaveral and after the locks were closed watched the amberjacks in a feeding frenzy. We went to local festivals, listened to all types of music and shared an oversized beer. Mike really enjoyed trips on the gambling boat, especially the time many famous wrestlers were the entertainment for the evening. He took his visitors to many of the local and state parks in Florida and wildlife refuges. He was very knowledgeable about aquaculture and bird life in Florida and readily shared it with his family. Mike drew the line at spending much time at flea markets, primarily visiting the farmers market section and spending the rest of his time “shopping” at the food vendors. For many years Mike had a circular route that he followed to check out the thrift stores, primarily looking for furniture. He replaced his recliner frequently because it got a lot of use. Mike loved hot fudge sundaes. He had the uncanny ability to find the best homemade ice cream places. When family visited Mike said that the family got to treat him because, “hey, I found the place!”
For several years Mike bred cockatiels. His female Julie filled many nests and one particular off-spring, Junior, remained as a member of Mike’s household. Mike swore that he did not teach Junior how to release the clasps on gold necklaces, but Junior repeatedly did so. We always wondered if Junior’s “trick” provided side income for Mike.
Mike spent many of his ‘formative’ years in Fort Lauderdale. He said that they were some of the best years of his life, even though he really can’t remember too much of them. He told us that the action was fast, the sights were interesting and Spring Break was amazing.
Mike loved to read all sorts of literature. Sci-Fi was his favorite with non-fiction a close second. He really enjoyed Netflix because he could binge-watch shows and no commercials. He was partial to Sci-Fi and shows depicting life in the past. By far, Mike was a huge WWF fan- perhaps their biggest fan. He knew all the wrestlers’ names and their marketed personalities. Even though he knew that their matches were rehearsed, he admired the athletic ability of such large men to move so quickly. He was a big NASCAR fan (Denny Hamlin) and followed the Miami Dolphins football team.
Mike’s musical tastes were primarily limited to Jimmy Buffett and Meatloaf. Anyone hearing Mike singing along with a Meatloaf song after he’d had a few beers would never forget it. Mike’s singing went from bad to unintelligible after consuming a few beers. Michael proudly proclaimed to all that he was a Parrott Head. Mike attended many Jimmy Buffett concerts and knew all the words to all the songs which he happily sang along with Jimmy, much to the displeasure of other nearby concert goers.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Beckman-Williamson Funeral Home in Rockledge, FL. There will be no calling hours and burial will be private.