At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
c/o Betzler Life Story FH 6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Legal Services of South Central Michigan
c/o Betszler Life Story FH 6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Rob O’Connor had an unquenchable zest for life. He worked hard and played hard, traveled the world and was a loving husband and good friend to many. He gladly shared his time, energy and love with those around him, expecting little in return.
Rob was born on January 21, 1959, to Robert and Agnes (Geraghty) O’Connor in Troutdale, England. Rob spent his growing up years in Southport, England, a seaside town on the Irish Sea coast just north of Liverpool. His parents both worked outside the home to support their family; his father was hotel chef while his mother worked a variety of jobs. When Rob and his sister Anna and brother Kevin were little, they spent summers in Ireland with their mother’s family. The O’Connor’s were in no way well to do, particularly when Rob was young, but Rob always fondly remembered getting a box of used toys each Christmas; he and his siblings were excited because the toys were new to them.
As a teenager, Rob learned to love music of all kinds – except bluegrass. He was a very bright and inquisitive, which often landed him in trouble. He and his friends would “borrow” chemicals from the school laboratory for their many experiments. One time his father narrowly prevented him from blowing up the family home.
During his formulative years, Rob played in a variety of sports and became a rabid Liverpool football (that’s soccer to you American friends) fan and remained a staunch supporter even while living in Manchester and, later, Michigan. Anyone who assumed that he was a Manchester United fan because he lived in Manchester would receive a stern, “No! I’m a Liverpool supporter, mate!” if they made that mistake.
Rob received his education in the Southport area schools and after graduating, attended the University of Manchester, where he earned a degree in Mathematics. While at “Man U”, he married Diane Rhodes. Rob and Diane were best friends with her sister and brother-in-law, Helen and Ken Curry, and the four of them had many good times together. Although Rob and Diane divorced after 13 years, they remained very good friends.
In February 1994 Rob had an opportunity to work for six months as a computer programmer at Kellogg’s in Battle Creek. However, his work kept being extended and he stayed at Kellogg’s for eight years. Rob eventually went to work at Spartan Foods in Byron Center, where he was recently employed.
On one hot day in July 1995, Rob headed out for a beer after a day of golf. It was here that he found a seat next to Sue Hartman, who was having a drink with a friend after coming to town for a minor league baseball game. The two struck up a conversation, and from that point were as inseparable as possible, considering that she lived near Chicago and he was in Battle Creek. After a year of “commuting,” Sue moved to Kalamazoo and seven years later, Rob and Sue tied the knot and were happily married on May 11, 2002. Two years ago they settled into their first home on Douglas, just north of town.
Rob and Sue loved to travel and enjoyed trips to Rob’s hometown in England, as well as to Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Rob had also traveled extensively throughout Europe and had visited Egypt. When not traveling, Rob stayed active playing soccer on the Old Peninsula and Arcadia soccer teams. He had many friends among his teammates and from the Kalamazoo Libation of Brewing Club (KLOB), of which he was a member. His friends were very important to him and he stayed close with many. It was probably a good thing they knew him pretty well because Rob was known to like a good argument, and often started a dispute just to argue!
Early on Rob had developed a deep love of beer, especially IPA and Belgium beers. But, as much appreciation as he had for beer, his passion was “hard” cider. He planned to develop a heritage apple orchard and make cider commercially. To that end, he already had started growing trees and planned to make part of his yard into an orchard as a “pilot” project. Sadly, Rob’s dreams never came to fruition as he died unexpectedly on Thursday, December 6, 2007. All who knew Rob will treasure his memory.
Learn more about Rob, view his life story, and visit with his family and friends on Tuesday, December 11, from 4:00–8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler, Kalamazoo (375-2900). A service to honor his life will be held on Wednesday, December 12, at 1:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Following the service, all are invited to Bell’s for a pint in his honor.
Rob was preceded in death by his parents and an infant brother. Surviving is his wife, Susan Hartman O’Connor and three siblings: Anna O’Connor and J. Kevin O’Connor, both of England, and Jean Fitzpatrick of Ireland. He also has a nephew, Sean, and a niece, Bridget. Please visit Rob’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory or photo with his family or sign his online guest book. Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of your choice, Salvation Army or Legal Services of South Central Michigan.