Paul Arthur O’Leary

San Francisco Chronicle - - LIFE TRIBUTES -

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 Le Reche, 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, Wil­bur El­lis 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.

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