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  • Writer's pictureKenneth E. Fields

In Memory of Martin O'Connor


Our dear friend and colleague, Martin O'Connor (pictured 2nd to left), recently passed away after a valiant fight against ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). His life was a shining example of professionalism and faith. Below is an extract from a eulogy read at his funeral.

 

“How’s Martin Doing?”

 

That was the first question I recently received from Mike, a mutual friend of ours. What surprised me about the question was that Mike hadn’t worked with Martin in over 25 years. Martin O’Connor made that kind of indelible impact on everyone around him and Mike’s question and the room full of people who came to celebrate his life are the evidence of that.

 

Martin had 3 interwoven themes in his life:


  1. The core of Martin’s life was his faith in Jesus


Martin was a pillar at Greenville First. He and his family were at the church whenever the doors were open and he served as the treasurer and on the board for decades. Those actions were a physical manifestation of his faithful commitment to God.

 

For me, it’s a more recent set of actions that truly made Martin’s faith shine. As he dealt with ‘this weird thing going on with his leg’, he requested prayer. As we cried together on the phone when he told me he had ALS, he talked about his faith in a mighty God. As he sat in a chair unable to stand on his own, he talked about being salt and light to others and a sovereign God who is the Lord of All…even ALS. He talked about how God blessed him with caregivers and an amazing place to live out his final days on this earth. Martin faced death with faith - he was sure of what he hoped for and certain of what he could not see.

 

2. Martin also loved his family well


Martin and his wife Sharon had a 45-year commitment to each other. They didn’t just have the kind of love you celebrate on Valentine’s Day with hearts and chocolates… they had the kind of love you share with a look and a knowing smile even in hard circumstances. The love that they shared was real, sincere, and a true reflection of Christ’s love for His Church. Martin and Sharon were both able to smile and laugh in the face of terminal disease. There were many dark and sad moments along the journey to be sure, but they faced them together.

 

3. Martin’s work was an extension of his faith, not a separate part of his life

 

If you only knew Martin professionally, I hope that none of the things that have been said about him so far come as a surprise to you because the faith, family, and professional aspects of his life were never far from each other. I watched Martin’s professional purpose and interactions closely and he was the first person in my life that showed me how to blend faith and business. His career included leading companies, building relationships with government officials, and serving non-profits like the Charter Institute at Erskine.

 

He called me in February of 2020 to let me know that he was interested in joining BlueInc, the consulting company that I co-founded with my friend, Johannes. We were both excited about being collaborating and he often remarked that God used BlueInc to bring us back together and impact others.

 

So, Mike, Martin’s doing fine now. He’s absent from this earthly body that served as his home for over 70 years, but he is present with Christ. We who are still here are going to miss him so much, but Jesus promised us that those who mourn will be comforted. And I’m comforted in knowing that Martin can worship Jesus while playing a round of golf at a course that puts Augusta National in April to shame.

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