Born January 2, 1945 in Buffalo, NY to Mary Jeanne Pessler and Harvey J. Huntley, Jeanne Ann O’Connor (nee Huntley) died at home in Montclair, N.J. on May 17, 2020 from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), a neurological disease for which there is no current treatment.
Jeanne grew up in Kenmore and then Williamsville, NY. She won a full scholarship to Niagara University in a competitive exam and graduated magna cum laude in 1966. She continued studies in English literature at Notre Dame University, again on a scholarship, and obtained an M.A. degree in 1967.
After teaching in the Buffalo school system, Jeanne moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1968, where she practiced social work, visiting clients in their homes, undaunted by the high crime in several of the neighborhoods.
Jeanne married John O’Connor, her college boyfriend, in 1970, and supported the family while John left his teaching position and attended law school. After John’s graduation and employment, Jeanne left social work and attended Fordham Law School, obtaining her JD degree in 1978.
But it was with the birth of her first child that Jeanne left lawyering for the work she loved most: being a mother and raising her two daughters Julie and Sinead. Jeanne was happiest wheeling them in their piggy-back, double stroller around Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town oval and through the streets of her wide-ranging “neighborhood”: from First Avenue to Fifth (especially Barnes & Noble on East 18th), and from East 11th (Veniero’s bakery) to East 34th (B. Altman and the Charleston Garden)
Years later, Jeanne decided to return to the workforce and use her law degree in a different way – at 51 she obtained an MLS degree from Rutgers University and later became a professor at Seton Hall University where she was a law research librarian in the Law School, specializing in health law and taking much satisfaction from tracking down arcane research requests.
Smart, pretty, funny, and unassuming. Jeanne was shy but courageous in tackling tasks she was uncomfortable with, like presentations as a law student and later lecturing classes of law students on research techniques.
An exercise devotee, Jeanne tackled the most vigorous exercise classes and enjoyed outlasting the men in push-ups. She liked bike riding, dancing, swimming a mile, and would throw in some roller-blading and ice skating for variety.
Jeanne is survived by John M. O’Connor, her husband of 50 years, her daughters, Julie H. O’Connor (husband Kirk Prichard) and Sinead H. Brooks (husband Michael S. Brooks); her brother Thomas Huntley (wife Barbara); and her three grandchildren, Grady Brooks (3), Ryan Prichard (2), and Leighton Brooks (2 months). Her brother James Huntley (wife Marianne) predeceased her.
Donations in Jeanne’s memory can be made to CurePSP at www.psp.org/oconnor.
In light of the coronavirus, the family plans a future memorial service at a date to be determined.
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