John J. O’Hara Jr., of Levittown, Vietnam veteran, died at 73

Aside from family, two things defined the life of Levittown’s John J. O’Hara Jr. — his Vietnam War service and the New York Mets. The one thing tipping the scales in balance of the former might be the bobcat mascot tattoo he and his crewmates got aboard the Coast Guard cutter Castle Rock when they first crossed the equator in Southeast Asia.

Though standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall — partly the result of the genetic Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome, a rare overgrowth condition — he nevertheless seemed so at home everywhere, remembered his daughter Mary Beth O’Hara-Biener, of East Islip, that he could walk in anywhere and people assumed he belonged.

“He would casually break into baseball stadiums,” she said with comic exaggeration. “When we were little, he brought (my siblings and me) in the morning to Shea Stadium once, and we just walked in like we owned the place. We went down to the field and we were running the bases and picking up the (dugout) phone and fake-talking to the bullpen” until a security guard finally noticed.

O’Hara, a member of his local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, died unexpectedly at home on April 11. He was 73. A longtime Con Edison employee, O’Hara “helped rebuild 7 World Trade Center” following 9/11 , said O’Hara-Biener.

John Joseph O’Hara Jr. was born in Brooklyn on Feb. 16, 1951, the second of three children of his namesake father, a World War II Coast Guard veteran, and Elizabeth Loughlin. After his mother’s death in 1956, his father married Patricia Whelan, with whom he had three more children.

Raised from childhood in Flushing, Queens, John Jr. would bicycle frequently to Shea Stadium, then being constructed, inspiring a lifelong love of the Mets. He attended St. Kevin Catholic Academy followed by Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School, and upon graduation enlisted in the US Coast Guard. His first assignment was aboard the Duane — by coincidence the same ship on which his father had served.

In Vietnam on the Castle Rock, he and his crew taught South Vietnamese conscripts to become sailors who would take duty on the ship after it was successfully decommissioned and transferred to South Vietnam in 1971. O’Hara later served stateside on the Mendota in New Bedford , Massachusetts.

He met Felicia McCabe, a Queens teacher for the deaf who was instructing his half-brother Jimmy, in 1979, and they married the following year. After living first in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, they moved in 1989 to Levittown, where they raised three children.

Felica McCabe related how on one recent anniversary she was hospitalized and intubated with a serious infection. “Now, I’m unconscious, so I shouldn’t know any of this, but I do,” she said. “He came with his suit on, wearing his white Stetson (hat) that he took the kids home from the hospital in , and brought a Belleek vase with flowers. And I remember hearing him tell the nurse that it was our anniversary, and he sat there holding my hand and he was there the whole day.”

VFW Post 9592 named him Grand Marshal of the 2018 Levittown Memorial Day Parade. Among his civic activities, said his daughter Mary Beth, “He liked painting the lines of the Red Wing (Park) baseball fields” for Little League.

In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include his stepmother, Patricia O’Hara, of Flushing; son, Sean O’Hara, of Carmel, New York; and daughter Margaret Anne O’Hara, of Levittown; his sister, Maureen Rescildo, of Southington, Connecticut; brother, Patrick O’Hara, of Colorado Springs, Colorado; younger half-siblings Kathleen Lagalante, of Oakland Gardens, Queens, and Brian O’Hara, of Old Bridge, New Jersey. He was predeceased by his half-brother Jimmy O’Hara; and by one of his eight grandchildren.

Visitation and a funeral Mass were held earlier this month. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn. No further memorial is planned.