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Thomas O’Connor, award-winning history teacher

Feb. 8, 1943 – July 2, 2015

Thomas J. O’Connor, an award-winning retired high school history teacher who once earned a Fulbright Fellowship to West Africa, died suddenly Thursday. He was 72.

A lifelong resident of Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda, he graduated from Canisius High School and Gannon University in Erie. He earned a master’s degree from the University at Buffalo in 1966 before starting a 35-year career in the Buffalo Public Schools. He taught middle school and high school before retiring and teaching for a few more years at Mount St. Mary’s and Canisius High School.

He regularly incorporated international study and travel into his work. He organized student trips to Washington, D.C., Boston and with his wife, Hari, to Montreal and France.

In 1991, he earned a Fulbright Fellowship to West Africa. In 1996, he taught English in Poland. In 1999, he won the USA Today “Outstanding Team Teacher” award.

He loved foreign cultures, a passion he shared with his wife and traveling companion of 38 years. For a decade, he served as a docent and volunteer at the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin House. He built scale models of international buildings and was a member of the Western New York Miniature Enthusiasts and the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts.

Survivors in addition to his wife include a brother, Dennis; and a sister, Kathleen.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda.