James Arthur O’Hearn

James Arthur O’Hearn

May 14, 1936 - April 15, 2017

James Arthur O’Hearn

May 14, 1936 - April 15, 2017


James Arthur O’Hearn, 80, of Costa Mesa, CA, died April 15, 2017. Jim was born May 14, 1936 in Cincinnati, Ohio to William and Virginia (Shea) O’Hearn. He is preceded in death by his sisters Rosemary, Alice, and Patricia and his good friend and brother-in-law Garry Stickley.

Jim was a 75-year resident of Orange County, spending the last 54 years at his longtime home in Costa Mesa.

Jim was not a man to waste words. He was very deliberate when he spoke; when he talked, people listened. He was the first in his family to finish college, graduating with degree in Physics from Long Beach State.

A skillful contriver and originator of mechanical contraptions; Jim could fix anything. He had tools in his workshop that most wouldn’t imagine a use for. His ingenuity with, and love for, steam engines was both inspiring and a true delight to witness. We’ll all remember fondly the smoke stack on his custom steam engine made from an empty can of Tree Sweet grapefruit juice; he wasted materials as infrequently as he wasted words.

He took great pride in his work as an aerospace engineer at Rockwell, or as he preferred to be called – a Rocket Scientist. He won engineer of the year in addition to the distinguished Silver Snoopy award, a special honor awarded to NASA employees and contractors for outstanding achievements related to human flight safety or mission success. What makes this award most prestigious is that it is given personally by NASA astronauts, representing the astronauts’ own recognition of excellence. Thanks to his work and dedication on the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, there will forever be a part of Jim O’Hearn in all vehicles launching into space.

He had a special knack for gift-giving, especially the heart-felt trinkets he offered to his wife, Mary, on those Christmas’, Mothers Days, and birthdays past. Gift-giving was one of the ways he communicated his love; one that transcended words. The gifts he gave weren’t the most expensive or elaborate. Rather, they were most personal with a unique charm and magic, something that spoke to the spirit rather than the sensible.

Jim was a man whose thirst for knowledge was never quenched. An eternal scholar and tinkerer, he was always looking to increase his knowledge in those things that interested him most. He bestowed this same love of education on his nine children, selflessly giving up so much so each of them could receive the best catholic-based education available in the county.

Jim had an extremely dry wit – you knew your sense of humor had reached a certain level of sophistication if you got his jokes. He had a great love for Star Trek as it appealed to the explorer within him. You experienced his full hearty laugh while sitting with him during an airing of MASH.

Jim was blessed abundantly during his life on earth. He accomplished so much and we, his children especially, owe him such a great debt of gratitude. He has so much to be proud of and we part now with such a great sense of pride in him. The true measure of life is love, and in that sense, Jim’s cup truly runneth over. His loss is deeply felt, and a space in each of our heart’s will now be forever vacant.

Jim is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary, and his brother William (Bill), sisters Mary and Betty, all his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He was a brilliant rocket scientist, but his true legacy lies with his nine children, Suzanne, James Eric, Thomas, Christopher, Sharyn, Steven, Kathryn, Mark, and Amy; fourteen grandchildren, Brian, Jason, Nathan, George, Issa, Kathryn, Amanda, Sean, Aaron, Kayla, Sophia, Ronan, Sara, and Liam; and two great-grandchildren Gabe and Blake.

A Rosary and funeral Mass will be held at St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa, CA beginning at noon on April 20th, 2017. Burial service at Good Shepherd cemetery will follow shortly thereafter.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to Life Center, Mary’s Shelter, or Casa Teresa.

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