Edward J.P. O'Connor

March 17, 1937 ~ December 1, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Edward O'Connor Obituary

Edward J. P. O’Connor was born March 17, 1937, in Highland Park, Illinois, while his father was stationed at Fort Sheridan, and raised on the family farm in Hancock, Wisconsin. In grade school, he took up the cornet and began the foundation of his career in music.

He graduated from Wautoma (WI) High School and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Northwestern University in 1959, where he had studied the French Horn. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent nearly a year and a half touring Europe with the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra. He returned to Northwestern University, completing a Master of Music degree in 1962. During that time, he began to work as a freelance musician in Chicago. He made two national tours as solo horn with the Chicago Little Symphony under Thor Johnson, performed on several concerts with the Chicago Symphony, worked at Universal Recording Studio in Chicago, and became a member of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra in 1963.

In 1964 he married Carol Ann Meek, whom he had met at Northwestern. They moved to New York where he began doctoral work at Teachers College, Columbia University, while Carol Ann studied voice. In 1966 he joined a woodwind quintet in New York, the members of which taught at the University of Connecticut. In 1967 he assumed a full-time position at the University of Connecticut. In 1967 he assumed a full-time position at the University of Connecticut directing a research center. Upon completion of the Ed.D. in 1967, he joined the music faculty and in 1969, became assistant dean of the School of Fine Arts primarily responsible for student affairs. He served as assistant and associate dean for ten years. He felt that he highest compliment he received was from students who said, “We hear that you are the person who knows how to cut the red tape.” During that period, he also was engaged as an evaluator of public-school music and fine arts programs, a service that he continued throughout his career. He also became active in the Music Educators National Conference serving as chair of the state of higher education and multicultural sections. In 1979, he left the deans’ office and became director of undergraduate studies for the Music Department, serving as a master advisor in addition to teaching courses in music education, research, and world music. As a member of the University Senate, he chaired the Curriculum and Faculty Standards Committees.

Having become interested in music of world cultures, he joined the Society for Ethnomusicology, eventually serving as president of the Northeast Chapter and as the nation Chapter Chair. He was especially active in the education section of the Society, becoming one of the leading Figures in the movement for the inclusion of world music in public school curricula. He did workshops in public schools on international folk music and dances. Altogether he presented more than 50 papers for professional societies. In 1992 the Connecticut Music Educators Association named him music teacher of the year.

Becoming especially interested in the music and dances of Czechoslovakia, he made this the primary focus of his research. On two sabbatical leaves, 1981 and 1988, he spent nearly a year in Czechoslovakia studying both classical vocal literature and folk songs. The second sabbatical was supported by a fellowship from the International Research and Exchanges Board. Subsequently, he performed a number of vocal recitals of the songs of Czechoslovakia as an outcome of his research on performance styles.

He served as Dean of the School of Fine Arts for the 1991-92 academic year. He retired from the faculty in 1994.

In 1996, he and Carol Ann moved to North Carolina. In 2000, for tutoring and other services that he did in an elementary school, he was named Volunteer of the Year by the county school system and received a Governor’s Volunteer Award.

Having joined Grace Moravian Church in Mount Airy, NC, he was elected to the Board of Christian Education for the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in 2002 and served as chair of the Commission on Church and Society. He was elected chair of the Board of Christian Education in 2006, serving for four years. These positions involved him in a number of affiliated organizations as well.

Left behind to cherish his memory are his wife, Carol Ann O’Connor, and two daughters: Lauren Jungreis and husband Aaron of Ra'anana, Israel; and Cathryn Olson and husband Richard of Derby, KS. In addition, he was blessed with seven wonderful grandchildren: Tzvi Jungreis, Eliana Jungreis, Kalanit Jungreis, Gilad Jungreis, Henry Olson, Ferris Olson, and Liberty Eden Olson.

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