John Daniel O’Leary – Obituary

JOHN DANIEL O’LEARY 1951 – 2020 Globe & Mail

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JOHN DANIEL O’LEARY 1951 – 2020 After a lifetime of service to others, our dear brother, uncle and friend, John Daniel O’Leary, passed away in a tragic accident on April 14, 2020. Born in Toronto in 1951 to the late Alphonse and Dorothy O’Leary, John was a passionate advocate for literacy, considered by many to be the father of the adult literacy movement in Canada. He joined Frontier College in 1976 as a teacher in their prison literacy program, and was appointed president of the College in 1991. He spearheaded a national initiative to organize volunteer literacy programs on every college and university campus in Canada. John also created literacy coalitions within labour, business, non-profit, and NGO’s. His relentless pursuit to enrich and make better the lives of others is his legacy. In recent times he was especially dedicated to raising funds for the Anishnawbe Health Foundation. John was passionate about theatre, travel, history and politics, but books were his true love. His standard greeting was ‘What are you reading?’ His family and friends will remember him through the libraries of books that he bestowed upon them over the years. Each lovingly signed, ‘Your book buddy, Uncle John.’ John is survived by his devoted sister, Maureen (David Young), who considered John to be her hero; his beloved nieces, Catharine, Colleen, Christine, and Erin O’Leary, and Kate and Emma Young. He also leaves behind several great nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents; his brother, Michael; and sister-in-law, Mary. John also had a vast chosen family of close friends who loved him and will miss him terribly, including the Berry, Coulter, Farlow, and Jones families; Mike Doyle, Phil Fernandez, Darla Maxwell, Jack Pearpoint, Mike Poce, Neil Webster, Jennifer Coffey, Mary MacDonald; and many others. A longtime resident of the Yonge and St. Clair community, where he resided for over 40 years, he was a parishioner and volunteer at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish, he will be sorely missed by the congregation. Our sincerest thank you go out to the first responders and medical team that risked their lives to help John at this most difficult time. A mass and memorial will be held in the future when we can gather to celebrate John’s life with love and laughter. If desired, donations may be sent to Anishnawbe Health Foundation John D. O’Leary Memorial Fund which has been set up to honour John’s legacy, https:// johnoleary/. As a family and a community, we are sharing stories and photos of John here https:// oleary.

Published in The Globe and Mail from May 2 to May 6, 2020