Paul Arthur O’Leary
Longtime San Francisco resident Paul Arthur O’Leary passed away on Monday, September 4th, 2017. He is survived by his wife of almost 65 years, Helen Forve O’Leary (known as Tibby) and his six living children and eight grandchildren: Anne Healy O’Leary (Russell Imrie), Clare Forve O’Leary, Paul Jeremy O’Leary (Kathi; daughter Eryn), Stephen Dakin O’Leary (daughters Lucy and Rachel and son Isaac), Kate O’Leary Breuil (Bastien; sons Alex Brunet and Matthias Breuil), and Richard Roger O’Leary (Amy; daughters Kate and Elizabeth.) His son Mark Victor O’Leary predeceased him in 1985.
Paul was born on May 8, 1927 in Cambridge Massachusetts, the only son of Jeremiah Patrick O’Leary of Cork, Ireland and Helen Ann Healy of New York City. He grew up in nearby Belmont, the middle child with four sisters: Helen LeReche, Geraldine O’Leary, Ann Ball, and Marie Fleming, all of whom predeceased him. Many nieces and nephews and numerous cousins in the extensive Healy clan, centered around the New York City area, considered him a family patriarch.
A proud graduate and active alumnus of Harvard College, Paul faithfully attended reunions of the Class of 1948 and delighted in maintaining connections with his former classmates. His college years were interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Portsmouth (1945-47). Moving to San Francisco after graduation from Harvard, Paul embarked on a career in international business. From 1950 through to his retirement in 1992, Paul worked for Connell Bros. Company, becoming President and CEO and later Senior Vice President for its parent company, WilburEllis Company. He relished his overseas assignments in Tokyo (1950-52) and Singapore (1953-54). Serving in the New York office from 1954-57, Paul and Tibby settled in Rye, NY, where their young family began to grow.
Returning to live in San Francisco in 1958, Paul quickly rose through a series of management positions that required frequent travel overseas, especially to Asia. An enthusiastic participant in the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Executive Program (1961), Paul continued learning throughout his life and invested in the education of others as well. He devoted 23 years as a trustee on the board of the Midland School in Los Olivos, California. He created and developed the highly successful Careers in International Business symposium for the World Trade Club, of which he was a past president and active member, reaching thousands of students over more than a decade. Paul lectured on international trade and economics at various universities and served as a mentor and on the Advisory Board of the University of San Francisco’s Center for Pacific Rim Studies.
Paul held leadership positions in many other professional and cultural associations related to his global interests: the World Affairs Council of Northern California, the Marine Exchange of San Francisco, the Shippers Advisory Council of the U.S. Maritime Administration, the Japan Society of Northern California, and the Asian Art Commission of San Francisco. A strong believer in community service, during 1995-6 he served as the Foreman of the Civil Grand Jury of the City and County of San Francisco, which had record output during the time, including the Report on the Criminal Justice System. Paul also served on the board of the Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael for more than a decade. He relished and nurtured many friendships through the Pacific Union Club, the Piledrivers Investment Club, the 601 Club, the Marin “Old Farts” and the Bohemian Club, especially its Medicine Lodge. Paul treasured the multi-generational friendships cultivated globally, through his travels and welcoming international guests into his home, and locally, during the 43 years that the O’Leary family lived on 6th Avenue, kept alive by reunions of former neighbors -- most recently only three weeks before his death.
Always quick with puns and delighting in clever wordplay, Paul was happiest when surrounded by family and friends in active conversation around the dinner table. A lifelong Republican married to a Democrat-leaning Independent, he took wry pleasure in canceling his wife’s votes during most elections and in provoking conversation with his alternative perspectives. Devoutly Catholic, he corralled his family to ensure they were on time for Sunday Mass and invited many clergy to the family table over the years. Paul was an avid reader, always surrounded by shelves overloaded with books. He took great pleasure in many years of season tickets to the San Francisco Symphony, occasional deep-sea fishing trips to catch salmon, and creative cookery which produced vast quantities of mostly delicious experimental dishes. Paul will be sorely missed at future jovial gatherings of family and friends, and many a toast will be raised to his memory.
The family welcomes friends to join in a celebration of Paul’s life at a Funeral Mass on Saturday, October 7th at 11:00 a.m. at the Holy Rosary Chapel, St. Vincent’s School for Boys, One St. Vincent’s Drive, San Rafael, California 94903. A reception will follow nearby at the Smith Ranch Homes Clubhouse, 400 Deer Valley Road, San Rafael, California, 94903, where Paul and Tibby have lived since 2004.
For those who wish to honor his memory, consider donations to Catholic Relief Services, St. Vincent’s School for Boys, one of the organizations mentioned above, or the charity of your choice. Assisted by Monte’s Chapel of the Hillls, San Anselmo.