Brian Dennis O'Gorman 1936-2009

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  • Christopher,
    I am so sorry for your loss. You Dad and I had many many laughs over the years. You and your family meant
    the world to him. He was a good friend of mine.

    The best to your and yours,
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  • Not sure what I have to write in here. Mary Fisher Loar
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  • I am sorry to hear of your Dad's passing.
    At one time your Aunt, Maureen and I were best friends and both worked at New Mendip Engineering. Maureen's son was my godson. I knew your family in the Bath area. Your grandmother was a lovely lady. I knew your Dad as well as your Uncle who worked at New Mendip. Due to a sad misunderstanding with your Aunt Eileen your Aunt Maureen and I have not had contact for many years. I tried to visit with your Aunt Maureen in Bath years ago when I was home. I moved to the States with the Dowty Group in 1963 and now live in Oregon with my husband. My two brothers, Neil and Tony Fisher still live in the Bath/Bristol area.
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  • 1. Brian Dennis O’Gorman 1936 – 2009 Dad was born in London, England on July 18th, 1936 to Christopher & Alice O’Gorman as the last of five children. Due to Christopher’s military obligations, Dad and his sister Maureen were the only two of the children not to have been born in Ireland. Christopher Timothy O’Gorman was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1891. He played Gaelic Football, rowed and boxed for St. Dunstan’s College before enlisting in an Irish Calvary unit during World War 1. Alice Marie Jacques was born in Waterford, Ireland in 1894 into a family of land owners (a big deal in Ireland at the time). They were married in Limerick in 1920 and left for England soon afterwards. ENGLAND & THE WAR Dad’s early years in London were during “The Blitz”, with air raid sirens and German planes carpet bombing the city. Some of his first memories were running to the bomb shelter in their back yard and seeing their church a couple doors down on the same road take a direct hit that turned it into rubble. In 1943, with the houses directly in front and behind them demolished from German bombs, the family decided to get the kids out of London. They moved out to County Wiltshire in the bucolic Southwest of England, a place reminiscent of Tolkien’s “Shire”. The other important family development at the end of the War was Dad’s oldest sister Eileen marrying a dashing American fighter pilot named Philip Yates. With England’s docks, industrial and commercial centers having suffered repeated bombings, the economy after the War was in shambles. As Dad entered his teens, he was more dynamic on the soccer pitch than in the classroom. Career prospects were slim, and he started an apprenticeship at a local hardware store. Boredom had set in as an interesting offer came from Phil & Eileen, who had moved back to the United States. They invited Dad to come over, live with them and attend high school in America. Leaving his family at 15 years old was very difficult for Dad, but leaving England at that time was not. 1
  • 2. America was experiencing a post war economic boom. Prosperity abounded, and the U.S. had become the economic and cultural center of the world. AMERICA Phil Yates was on his way to becoming Vice President of Continental Airlines, and prior to opening up much of the Pacific to commercial air travel, he was in charge of a small airport in Hobbs, New Mexico. Dad came over in 1952 and started his junior year at Hobbs Senior High School. He was a bit of a celebrity as a handsome Irish-English boy, accent and all, in a small town in the American Southwest. The local radio station interviewed him. He was captain of the soccer and track teams. He dated a cheerleader and drove a ’49 Chevy. Dad graduated from high school in 1955, and in the summer immediately following, he totaled his car drag racing in the desert. He wasn’t too fond of being told off by his older sister, so he told her goodbye, in perhaps a less polite manner, walked downtown and joined the United States Air Force. After basic training in Michigan, the commanding officer of an Air Force Base in France had heard about Dad’s soccer prowess, and got him assigned to Strasbourg in the Alsace region of France, near the Rhine River. FRANCE It must have been very interesting being a young Englishman of Irish ancestry serving in the American Military stationed in France. Dad worked very hard to lose his accent as quickly as possible due to flack he was getting from the other military types. The base commanding officer, who would soon become a good friend, made Dad captain of a handpicked team of U.S. Military all-star soccer players, and they began playing French Club Teams around France. They won the league. These were good times and Dad always enjoyed reminiscing about this part of his life. He was able to visit England frequently on military transports to spend time with family, including his father who was nearing the 2
  • 3. end of his days. He discovered a love for French cuisine and Alsatian wines. He had become drinking buddies with the C.O. of his base, which resulted in a number of perks, and he was having fun dating local French and German girls. Twice he was declared A.W.O.L. after getting stuck across the border in Germany with a particular girlfriend. CALIFORNIA After leaving the military, Dad headed for the West Coast of America to live on the ocean in Manhattan Beach, just South of Los Angeles. Memories from this time include seeing an upstart surfing band called the Beach Boys playing at local clubs, and dating stewardesses back when sexist airline hiring practices were in full effect. He was working as a crew chief for PSA Airlines at the time, and one day on a whim, he and his friend Dick Lawrey decided to road trip up to San Francisco. San Francisco in the 60’s must have been quite a sight, and they decided to stay. After settling in, Dad went back to school at Golden Gate University to earn a degree in import traffic management, and he began working for an importer of fruit products from Asia. One day in 1966, Dad and some of his buddies went out for beers to the Rose & Thistle Pub on California Street, and there he met a violinist and school teacher named Mary Wilson. She had grown up in Scotland, and after a brief stay in Canada playing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, she came to visit a friend in San Francisco and never left. Following a six month courtship, they were married. Although they lived on the Pan Handle, close to Haight- Ashbury, during the Summer of Love (’67), they most assuredly were not participants in “the scene”. Mom was playing violin with the San Francisco Symphony and Dad was working during the day and going to school at night. My parents saved up to buy a house in Noe Valley, San Francisco, and in 1969, I was born. O’GORMAN GRAPHICS & ACCURATE MAILINGS After a couple more years of Dad doing import/export and Mom working in publishing, they started their first business together in 1971 called O’Gorman Graphics. Dad ran the printing presses, Mom was the graphic designer and they both did sales. Through hard work and many late nights, they grew the business into a success. Some of my earliest memories were being set up with a small television and sleeping bag in the front office, while my folks pulled an all-nighter on printing presses in the back to get job on deadline out in time. 3
  • 4. My parents sold O’Gorman Graphics in 1978 and started a new business to capitalize on a growing marketing trend: direct mail advertising. The new business was called Accurate Mailings, and within 4 years they had 130 employees. Brian & Mary O’Gorman were living the American Dream. Two first generation immigrants who came to this country for better opportunities based on an idea or two and whole lot of hard work. As the businesses prospered, so did our lifestyle. Through the late 70s and 80s we moved from Millbrae, to San Mateo, to Newark to Healdsburg. There were many memorable vacations, including Caribbean cruises, Europe, Asia, Alaska and many trips to Mexico, which was a favorite destination of our family over the years. Sports were a big part of Dad’s life growing up and this continued through my childhood. Dad coached my soccer teams and at one of our first practices he taught a group of eight year olds how to violently slide tackle without getting called for a penalty. It was fun to have a ringer as a coach and per usual, Dad’s team won the league. Each year Dad and I would set the alarm for 5am to watch the Wimbledon Final. After watching Borg play McEnroe one year, he took me out and taught me how to play tennis. San Francisco 49ers and Giants games were a staple of our weekend activities from as far back as I can remember. SPAIN Following high school graduation, I left home for university in London, England. Around the same time, a couple of close friends of Mom & Dad had left Healdsburg to retire in the South of Spain. With the roost being empty, my parents decided to do the same, and they joined their friends in Spain. They purchased two adjoining condos and combined them in a village called Polop, near the coastal resort towns of Altea and Benidorm. There was a large group of British ex-pats there, and the bar scene on the coast was vibrant. Unfortunately, with no business to focus on and lots of free time, Dad was tempted by the Irish curse that had crept up through the 1980’s, and Dad became very friendly with Scotch & Soda and their siblings Rum & Coke. Upon completion of the term in London, I joined my folks in Spain. For the next year we drove around North Africa and most of Europe, including some very memorable times in Ireland visiting some long lost aunts. 4
  • 5. I returned to the States to continue university in America in 1988, and sadly, my folks split up soon after. CANCER Dad returned to Sonoma County at the end of the 1980’s. Shortly thereafter, as a result of 30 years of smoking 1-2 packs of Lucky Strikes a day, plenty of scotch and the stress of starting two successful businesses along with the breakup of his marriage, Dad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of throat cancer. Following a couple unsuccessful procedures, including radiation, he was given this grim prognosis: if he were to undergo extensive surgery with a full laryngectomy and rebuild of his lower jaw, there was only a 15% chance he would survive 5 years. If he decided against the procedure, he would not survive the year. The surgery would require Dad to breathe through a stoma and communicate by writing on a board for the rest of his life. It also took away two of Dad’s favorite things: eating good food and bullshitting. I remember chatting with Dad as we drove down to UCSF on the day of the procedure knowing that was the last time I would ever hear his voice. It was during this period of time that I began to realize my Dad’s strength of character and unflappable will to survive. BATH & OAKLAND Dad recovered from his surgery with his sister Maureen and her husband Gordon in beautiful Bath, England. It was good for him to be around family near the place of his early childhood, and he took full advantage of the local theater arts and pub culture. Shortly after my graduation from university, Dad and I began sharing a spacious townhouse in Oakland that was filled with sunlight, plants, music and laughter. This allowed him to spend half the year in Bath, taking advantage of the lovely English summers, and the other half in the Bay Area, avoiding the cold and wet English winters. It was the best of both worlds. In 1997, I brought home an incredible woman who would become the love of my life and my dad’s daughter in-law. Alexandra and I were married in Zihuatanejo, Mexico with my Dad in attendance as a proud parent. LIAM & SOPHIA In 2002, we found a dream house in Cloverdale that would be perfect for starting a family, so the three of us moved up in the fall. 5
  • 6. Dad’s grandson Liam was born in 2003 and granddaughter Sophia Jane followed in 2005. Dad was over the moon. The arrival of his grandchildren marked the beginning of a very special time in Dad’s life. He was visibly more content. Afternoons spent assembling model airplanes or doll houses with the kids would leave Dad, Liam & Sophia all smiling ear to ear. These were good times, indeed. Dad had always distinguished himself as a very generous man, whether it was helping out a friend, picking up the dinner tab or lending his son a few bucks for a jazz show during the lean college years. This generosity was always on full display on birthdays and holidays, at which his grandkids usually had more gifts to open up than they could keep track of. After his initial diagnosis in 1991, through strength of will and perhaps touch of stubbornness, Dad lived another eighteen years which allowed us to share our marriage, grandchildren and many fun and poignant memories with him, for which we are eternally grateful. Dad passed away peacefully among family at home on Tuesday, May 12, 2009. He will be sadly missed. 6