O’CONNOR – SQUADRON LEADER DENNIS (DOC) BERNARD
It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Dennis O’Connor, age 75, on January 1, 2009. Born in Brent Ontario on February 18, 1933, he lost his mother Marie, a Chippewa, to tuberculosis when he was only 9. When Dennis was a teenager, the family moved to Capreol where they made their home in a converted boxcar while his father Dinnes worked for the CNR. The day he turned 18, Dennis traveled to North Bay and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. For the next 56 years, Dennis was a professional pilot. One of the highlights of his career was representing Canada in a London to Sydney air race, commemorating 50 years of aviation. On that flight his crew from the RCAF set a number of world records that still stand today.
At the age of 21 while stationed in Goose Bay Labrador, Dennis met Agnes McNamara, a Nursing Sister in the RCAF. They were married for 46 years and had four children. Agnes died in 2002. In 2005, Dennis married Ruth Harrison (nee Bennett) and moved to Nanaimo, British Columbia.
In his sixties, Dennis rediscovered golf and became passionate about the game. In the last year of his life he played 116 games. He had a witty sense of humour and a great love for music, whether it was playing the harmonica, clarinet, trumpet, banjo, ukulele or spoons. He was the life of the party!
In September 2008, Dennis was diagnosed with lung cancer. Just before Christmas he was admitted to the Palliative Care Unit at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Dennis was well cared for in the time of his illness by his wife, Ruth, and his daughter, Maureen. He is survived by Ruth, his children Shawn, Daniel (Martha Randall), Kevin (Lesley Hadrill), and Maureen (Patrick Olmsted) and his grandchildren Katie, Matthew, Tess, Leah, Aidan and Dylann. He also leaves his siblings Terry, Larry, Peggy, Betty and Gerald. He will be remembered by his many friends and flying buddies.
A private funeral service was held at Sands Funeral Chapel in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Interment at the National Military Cemetery, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa, will take place on Friday July 10, 2009 at 1100 followed by a luncheon at the RCAF Officer’s Mess. Friends and family welcome. A very special thanks to the Palliative Care Team at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for the excellent care they provided to Dennis and family during his hospitalization.
In lieu of flowers, please remember your local food bank.
Sands ~ Nanaimo