John J. O’Connor Jr. Memorial Nursing Scholarship Fund
The O’Connor Fund will be awarded annually to Rhode Islanders who are pursuing a certified nursing assistant license or an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing at a Rhode Island school.
Joan M. O’Connor, who died in 2013, created this fund through a charitable remainder annuity trust she established in 1990, with the distribution for the fund coming to the Foundation after her death and that of one other beneficiary.
Her Letter of Instruction to the Foundation notes, “Mrs. O’Connor wishes to memorialize her beloved husband, John J. O’Connor, Jr. who died at the young age of 58. Mr. O’Connor was the Administrator of St. Elizabeth Home for ten years, and held the nursing profession in high regard. He recognized the importance of a strong working relationship between nursing home administration and the nursing staff. In addition, his sister was a nurse.”
In a 2005 interview with the Foundation, Joan related that she met her future husband when she was working as a secretary at Edwards & Angell. John, a graduate of Classical High School, had served as an Army combat engineer during World War II and was a student at Brown University when the couple was introduced in 1947.
John graduated from Brown in 1950, the couple married, and he took a job as a salesman with a jewelry company. But the required travel was not to the newlyweds’ liking, and he entered the insurance business, working at Travelers, followed by Starkweather & Shepley, and finally at Amica.
After 23 years in the insurance industry, he left to serve as administrator of St. Elizabeth Home, for which he already served on the board of directors. “He really loved that home,” Joan stated during the 2005 interview. “The honeymoon was never over. It was a love affair. They loved him and he loved them. He knew the name of every patient and believed administration and nursing should be a completely cooperative effort with one purpose. The bottom line is patient care.”
The O’Connor Fund is the fifth nursing fund to be administered by the Foundation. It will be awarded annually to Rhode Islanders who are pursuing a certified nursing assistant license or an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing at a Rhode Island school.