Marie Annette O’Hara, the devoted mother of two, loved vacationing in faraway places. Her jaunts included Alaska, Hawaii, Europe and a hefty handful of Caribbean islands. All told, her feet touched land on five continents.
But as much as she loved to jet around the world, her home base always stayed the same.
O’Hara, who lived her entire life in Brentwood, died at home June 5 from complications of a recent fall, said her husband, Tom O’Hara. She was 58.
“We lived our whole life in that ZIP code and have been blessed with hundreds of friends,” said Tom O’Hara, 60, a former vice chairman of the Islip Town Republican Committee. “It was pretty easy to see. They liked me, but they loved her.”
O’Hara was easy to love, her children said. Despite years of health problems, which included a heart attack, a major stroke and a constant battle with a blood disorder, she never stopped being an involved mom.
“We planned my Sweet 16 from a hospital after she had a heart attack,” said daughter Meagan Darling, 35, of Central Islip. “She did anything to try to keep our lives as normal as possible. She put her own health and her own pain and struggles to the side just to make sure we were happy.”
Said son Michael O’Hara of Holbrook: “Looking back at it, she was the most hands-on mother that one could ever ask for. She didn’t miss a beat. She didn’t miss a thing. She didn’t miss an event. Everything was kids before mom.”
O’Hara was on the verge of beating Stage 4 lung cancer when she died, Tom O’Hara said.
Tom O'Hara said his wife underwent 372 blood transfusions in her lifetime. Michael O'Hara, 32, marveled at how she endured.
“They suck the life out of you," he said. "Every time I visited her in the hospital, not once did I ever hear her complain or say ‘I hate my life.’ It’s incredible to actually think back and see how strong of a person she was.”
Born Sept. 24, 1961, at South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, O’Hara graduated Brentwood Ross High School in 1979 and Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood in 1981 with an associate degree in liberal arts. She was an emergency medical technician with the Brentwood Legion Ambulance service, where she met Tom in 1981.
She continued to actively volunteer with the ambulance corps for 15 years.
The couple were five days away from their 36th wedding anniversary, Tom O’Hara said.
O’Hara spent 10 years working as a special education teacher’s assistant at North Elementary School in Brentwood.
“She was someone to turn to when a lot of them didn’t have that at home,” Darling said. “I think that was probably what kept her going. It made her feel like she was contributing to them and doing something good.”
O’Hara loved going out to restaurants, especially Outback Steakhouse. She also loved watching television, with "Days of Our Lives," "Criminal Minds," "Blue Bloods" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" marked as favorites. She was artistic and loved getting her nails done, Darling said.
“Marie was outgoing,” said lifelong friend Fran Rush, 58, of North Carolina. “She found humor in almost everything. Her laugh was very hearty.”
In addition to her husband and children, O’Hara is survived by her mother, Virginia Rubino, and sister Donna Rubino, both of Brentwood; brother, Joey Rubino of Calverton; and four grandchildren. A funeral was held June 13 at St. Anne Roman Catholic Church in Brentwood.