Former Santa Barbara resident Jeanne Laughlin O’Hara died on September 6, 2019 at her home in Walnut Creek, California after a period of declining health. She was 93.
Born on February 23, 1926 in Kansas City, Missouri, Jeanne was given the unlikely name of Olive Eugenia Laughlin. She vastly preferred to be called “Jeanne.”
Jeanne was born the fifth of seven siblings to John Gregory Laughlin and Olive Miller Laughlin and raised in Bonner Springs, Kansas.
She graduated from Kansas State University and remained a loyal Wildcat for the rest of her life. She was a member of the Tri-Delta sorority.
Jeanne was a proud Democrat and counted Franklin Delano Roosevelt as her hero. She campaigned for John Fitzgerald Kennedy when he ran for the office of President in 1960 and for his brother Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968. Almost until the end of her life she passionately followed political developments and regularly watched television news and commentary. A particular favorite was “Hard Ball” with Chris Mathews. Indeed, among her last words were a mention of Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. She was also known for her ability to belt out the lyrics of the song "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" which accurately reflected her size and eye color.
Jeanne met James P. O’Hara Jr. on a blind date and they married on January 2, 1954. Together, they lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Denver Colorado and various places in California while raising a family and finally in Olympia, Washington. Following her husband’s death, Jeanne moved to Walnut Creek, CA in 2001.
Jeanne worked as a nursery school instructor in Sunnyvale California, as administrative assistant to Dr. John Crowell, head of the department of geology at UC Santa Barbara, and as Secretary to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals for the State of Washington in Olympia.
She was preceded in death by her husband, James Jr., and by her siblings John G. Laughlin Jr., Margaret Fairchild, Ruth (Dowd) Carlin, Nancy Bunting, Patricia Clifford and Suzanne Taylor.
She is survived by her children Kerry Anne O’Hara of Sacramento, Kevin Laughlin O’Hara and wife Janet of Oakland and James Patrick O’Hara III and companion Maureen Duris of Santa Barbara.
She is also survived by her grandchildren Gregory O’Hara and fiancee Kristin Skromme of Seaside, California; Brendan O’Hara of Rogue River, Oregon; Mary O’Hara Clarke and husband Alex of Santa Barbara, James O’Hara IV and companion Linh Bahn of Los Angeles, by great grandson, Nolan Clarke, also of Santa Barbara and by a great granddaughter who will be born in December. She is also survived by in-laws, including Rita Diskin O’Hara of Lakewood Colo., Charles O’Hara, of Topeka, Kansas, Cathy Smith O’Hara of Topeka; Elaine Jefferson of Parsons, Kansas, Jeanne O’Hara Smith of St. Paul, Kansas and Betty Ann O’Hara Cunningham, of Olathe, Kansas.
She is also survived by an extended family of nieces, nephews, cousins and a network of friends who appreciated Jeanne's wit, sense of humor, intelligence and her capacity for love.