William W. O'Connor, 83, teacher

September 07, 2006

William W. O'Connor, a retired sociology teacher and activist who opposed the Vietnam War, died of cancer Aug. 28 at his Charles Village home. He was 83.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Aiken Street, he was a 1940 graduate of City College and earned a bachelor's degree from Loyola College. He served in the Army Signal Corps in Germany during the U.S. occupation.

Mr. O'Connor taught at a private school in Brussels, Belgium, and at Baltimore's Brehms Lane Elementary School. He retired in 1980 from what is now Baltimore City Community College, where he taught sociology and social issues as reflected in the daily news.

As an anti-war activist, he was close to Philip Berrigan and helped organize demonstrations during the celebrated trial of the Catonsville Nine.

"Bill had passion and backed it up with thoughtful analysis and facts," said Dean Pappas, a friend for 40 years. "He was well-read and was always digging up examples of grass-roots movements for social change. He wrote poems and recited them."

About 30 years ago, he helped establish Sam's Belly Food Co-op and Bread and Roses Coffeehouse on 31st Street in Waverly. He sat on a committee to establish the People's Free Medical Clinic and helped found Generations for Peace and Democracy, an intergenerational movement for peace, education rights and ecology.

He collected classical and jazz recordings and read widely.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete.

Survivors include his wife of 41 years, the former Marilyn Nease; three sons, Martin O'Connor of Freiburg, Germany, Stephen O'Connor of Frankfurt, Germany, and Leonard Skorko Jr. of Owings Mills; a daughter, Stefanie Grote of Glenville, Pa.; and two grandchildren.

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