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Joan M. and John J. O’Connor Jr. Fund
By Jean Cohoon / December 31, 2013 /   Loading Disqus...
Joan O’Connor’s love for animals, evidenced through her involvement with local animal humane organizations, as well as the two cats, Wendy Lou and Nigel, who kept her company for many years, will be permanently recognized through this fund she established for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

“They do marvelous work. They work to improve conditions for animals throughout the world,” Joan said in a 2005 interview with the Foundation. She became familiar with the organization when she heard John Walsh, then WSPA’s international projects director, speak at a local event.

Born and raised in Providence, Joan graduated from Central High School in 1944, and then went to work as a legal secretary at Edwards & Angell. It was during her early years at the law firm that she was introduced to John O’Connor, her future husband. A graduate of Classical High School, he had served as an Army combat engineer during World War II and was a student at Brown University when the couple met in 1947.

John graduated from Brown in 1950 and the couple married. He worked briefly as a salesman with a local jewelry company before entering the insurance business, working at Travelers, 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 was the home’s administrator for 10 years, until his death in 1983 at age 58.

Joan changed employers only once. After nine years at Edwards & Angell, she accepted a position at Citizens Bank as secretary to the president. She advanced through the years, first to administrative assistant, then to corporate secretary, and finally to vice president. She retired from Citizens in 1977 following 24 years of service.

Joan, who died in February, 2013, was active at the First Unitarian Church in Providence and had served on the boards of both the Providence Animal Rescue League and Volunteer Services for Animals.
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