James Michael O'Connor

June 9, 1947 ~ February 3, 2024 (age 76) 76 Years Old

James O'Connor Obituary

In loving memory of James Michael O’Connor, our Jim, Dad, and Papa.  He leaves behind a legacy of remarkable dichotomies of strength and gentleness, intellect and humility.

Our Papa was the devoted husband of Denise Mulcrone O'Connor and a loving father to Kevin (Liz) O’Connor, Kathleen (Paul) Ricketts, and Brian (Liz) O’Connor.  Beyond all academic and professional accolades, his proudest role was that of a grandfather to Rhian, Jack, James, Connor, Cullen, Michael, Kayleigh, Finn, and Matthew. Preceded in death by his fun-loving brother John O’Connor and beloved parents, John and Agnes O’Connor, his memory lives on in the hearts of those he cherished.

Our Papa snuggled babies, tossed batting practice, and cheered from the crowd at every sporting event and music and drama performance he could attend. He taught us and his grandchildren to be kind over everything else, that is unless we were lined up for a free throw in a basketball game when his one liner “put ‘em in the cheap seats” became his signature battle cry.  His grandchildren will forever recall his simple pleasures of sharing a cold Coca-Cola and a snickers bar, a Saturday afternoon viewing of all Fighting Irish football games, and the witty quips he brought to every family gathering.  One of his happiest experiences was reconnecting with his O’Malley, Lavelle, and Mulcrone cousins in County Mayo Ireland, as he found kindred spirits who embodied humor, generosity, and intellect, alike.  

His allegiance to the Chicago Cubs was unwavering, much like his refusal to swim, making him a badge short of Eagle Scout glory.  Demonstrating his unwavering loyalty to the Fighting Irish, he declined a full scholarship to the University of Southern California in favor of attending the University of Notre Dame where he graduated magna cum laude. His academic prowess led him to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Indiana University where he won numerous awards for his research and teaching skills. His professional career began in 1977 when he accepted a position in the research division of Bendix in Southfield, Michigan.  After many years with Bendix, Allied Signal, and Honeywell, Jim was hired in 2003 at the University of Maryland College Park where he was named the Director of the new Nanotechnology Laboratory.  Upon retiring in 2018, he had worked together with staff and faculty to bring the Nano Lab to national recognition.  

A scholar and a patriot, his extensive understanding of World War II was cultivated through voracious reading and research. Ten patents bore witness to his inventive mind, while a love for a strong Guinness and Thanksgiving mixology showcased his delightful spirit.  He was the consummate host, always loving Nana’s wishes to host dear family and friends in their home.   

Our family is forever grateful to the home health aides Tess, Hawa, Ricardo, ChiChi, Marcell, Douglas, Latonya, and Pauline who loved him and provided such compassionate, respectful care along side of our mother for many years. Nana embodied their wedding vows until his last breath in their own home.   

The family will receive friends at the Harry H. Witzke’s Family Funeral Home, 4112 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City, on Thursday, February 8, 2024 from 10am-12pm; a funeral service will begin at 12 noon.  Internment services are private. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either the Lewy Body Dementia Association or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.




Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know James Michael O'Connor?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor James's memory.


Memorial Visitation
February 8, 2024

10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home
4112 Old Columbia Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Memorial Service
February 8, 2024

12:00 PM
Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home
4112 Old Columbia Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Video is available for this event

Interment is private


Lewy Body Dementia Association
912 Killian Hill Road SW, Lilburn GA 30047
Web: http:/

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Tel: 1-800-822-6344


© 2024 Harry H. Witzke Funeral Home Inc.. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility