Patricia (Pat) Smith O'Hara (1935-2016) was born in Connecticut but grew up in Pennington after moving here with her parents in 1940. Her father, Rudolph Smith, served on the Pennington Borough council in the 1940’s and 1950’s. After graduating from Eden Hall, a Catholic school staffed by the Mothers of the Sacred Heart, she attended Manhattanville College, which was run by the same Order. After her second year there she met F.J. ‘Pete’ O’Hara, and in Dec. 1956 they were married in the “Little Church” of St. James Parish. They moved frequently while Pete was training and then serving as an officer in the Marine Corps, living in Virginia, California, and Florida. They moved back to Pennington in 1961 after Pete completed his service in the Marine Corps. She was a founding member of the Hopewell Valley League of Women Voters and of the Hopewell Valley Historical Society. In 1965 she became the first woman to be elected to the Pennington Borough Council. She served two terms until the end of 1969. In 1970 the family moved to Salt Point (Poughkeepsie) NY for 3 years, returning to Pennington in 1973. She was well known in women's athletics, refereeing Field Hockey and Lacrosse, and she served on the board of the Pennbrook Swim Club. In the 1980’s she became infamous for chasing bank robbers down Main St. and providing the information on her CB radio that led to their capture and arrest. Pat lived in eight houses in Pennington: 123 King George Rd., 126 King George Rd., 9 Birch Ave., 413 Sked St., 105 Hessian Hill Dr., 40 North Main St., 10 Weidel Dr. and 66 Woolsey Ct. Fifteen years ago, Pat and Pete fell in love with Dunedin, Florida and the Pinellas Trails; they ended up spending winters in Dunedin and summers back in Pennington. In her professional career Pat was the Zoning Officer in Hopewell Township for fourteen years and in Pennington Borough for two years. Known as "Officer Friendly," she helped many applicants to obtain building permits and zoning exceptions. She was a very active community volunteer; she was on the board of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) and assisted in the fund raising and building of their home on Esher Street. In addition she was a Trustee of St. James Church and the Pennington Cemetery Association for many years. Beyond the facts and figures, Pat was a force to be reckoned with. She was the perfect cocktail of German/Irish DNA, raised with American optimism. She loved to be an organizer and to encourage friends and family to achieve their best and to give back to their community. She loved a good time at St. Patrick’s Day O’Hara Clan Reunions, dinner parties with her paddle, poker, and sailing friends, and a Guinness or two; and she believed that hard work and integrity pay off.
Pat was an intensely loyal, strong, and determined woman— • a dedicated wife to Pete for nearly 60 years, so proud of his Yale, Marine, and IBM accomplishments that you would think she was the graduate, service-woman, and employee. • a devout Catholic – sang in the choir, served on the board of St. James’ Parish, and was a vocal advocate for more female leadership and loved her “interfaith soup and studies” for a chance to feel connected to all people of faith around the world. • a rabid Yankee fan since the Joe Dimaggio era, with an NY always tattooed on her hats, shirts and socks; and a Trenton Thunder fan (triple A team). • and a die-hard Republican, but with best friends from the other side of the aisle.
Pat was passionate and involved— • playing a range of sports: golf, swimming, snorkeling/scuba, field hockey, tennis, paddle tennis, cross country skiing, and BIKING….especially rail-trail biking! • volunteering: Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Hug a Preemie at Mercer Medical Center, F.I.S.H. (Friends in Service Here of Hopewell Valley) and the Pinellas Trails bike trail. • being a proud parent to her five children, often sharing her motherly love, advice and healthy food with their friends’ and her friends’ kids. • being a favorite grandparent to her eight grandchildren, insisting on taking them each on their “10-year-old trip” and being there for their sports, shows, and school milestones. • an aspiring farmer with gardens, barns, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, dogs, and cats, even if their property didn’t always accommodate them. • a can-do homemaker with a box of tools, paint brushes, and an ambitious attitude to change everything and do it herself! • an extreme health-nut proudly eating from her garden, banning sugar and salt from her kitchen, and replacing them with honey, kelp, carob, and vitamin C. • and a world traveller to see her kids, be with her friends, and embrace the lifestyle of a lifelong learner. She is survived by her loving husband of 60 years "Pete", son Michael (& Laura) O'Hara; daughters Maggie (& Karl) Swanke, Katie Ferguson, Molly O’Hara, and Ann (& Scott) Hedges; grandchildren Lyssa (& Eric) Horvath, JP Ferguson, Sarah Swanke, Sam Swanke, Hope Swanke, Declan Ferguson, Janet Hedges, and Jordan Hedges; brother Peter (& Rebekah) Smith and nephew Karl (& daughter Tara); niece Susannah Smith; brother-in-law Mark (& Sara) O'Hara; sisters-in law Bridget (& Roger) Walling and Duane O'Hara; nephews Mark O'Hara and Mike (& Christine, Katie, Jack) O'Hara, and niece Michelle O'Hara (& Jeremy, Caden, Ben) Levin. Pat is predeceased by her parents Rudolph Otto Smith and Geraldine Mullen Smith.
A celebration of her life and legacy is planned for Saturday, May 14th: a Memorial Mass at 11am (St James “little” Church) and Reception at 12pm (St James “God’s gym”) in Pennington. Donations in her honor should be sent to: TASK (http://www.trentonsoupkitchen.org/) OR Pinellas Trails Inc., P.O. Box 356, Clearwater, Florida 33757-0356.