Ballyb's 'Oklahoman' had a passion for life

Published 30/01/2013 | 13:59

The late Dr James O'Carroll

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DR JAMES O'CARROLL died in his sleep next to his wife, Peggy, in Cliff Road, Ballybunion, Co Kerry, on Sunday, January 6.

Although born and raised in Ireland, everyone who knew Jim knew he was and will forever be an Oklahoman. James was born to Sarah O'Connor and Thomas O'Carroll on November 29, 1920, in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, during the turbulent times of Ireland's emancipation from English rule and the harsh times of the depression.

Raised as a farmer, he joined the Irish Army, but soon left that service at the onset of WWII to join the British Commandos. He was an instructor at the Spean Bridge commando depot in the Scottish Highlands before he landed at Normandy.

He was a POW who survived Dresden before he escaped. Returning from the war, he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he received a degree in medicine. He then emigrated to Canada where he served as a medical officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

After a brief stay in Canada, James came to America as a practicing psychiatrist in Connecticut at the Yale Institute of Living before moving to his home state of Oklahoma in 1960, because of his love of the prairie.

He became an American citizen in 1965 and was the first foreignborn, foreign-graduate licensed to practice medicine in Oklahoma. He initially practiced at Eastern State Hospital in Vinita, Oklahoma, where he instituted humane treatment policies for the patients. Thereafter, he established a successful private practice in Tulsa where he practiced psychiatry for more than 20 years.

He had six children with Maud Staveley-O'Carroll, M.D. who predeceased him in 1993: Marianne Cohn, a retired engineer of Sylvania, OH, Capt J Ormonde Staveley-O'Carroll of North Dartmouth, MA, Marguerite Steinle, who also predeceased him, Richard O'Carroll of Tulsa, OK, Kevin Staveley-O'Carroll M.D. surgeon and Penn State Professor and Kathleen Staveley-O'Carroll Rieves, M.D. a physician in Grand Junction CO.

He also adopted and raised his second wife, Barbara Bowers' children: Julie and Valerie O'Carroll. He was a grandfather to 18 and great-grandfather to six. He loved ranching, children, medicine, the prairie and Notre Dame football.

The night before his death Jim eschewed suggestions of a hospital check-up because it may have interfered with watching his beloved Fighting Irish in the Championship football game.

He was 92 years-old and will be sorely missed by all that knew him.

His remains reposed at Lynch's Funeral Home, Ballybunion, on Wednesday January 9. Requiem Mass was celebrated in St John's Church, Ballybunion, on Thursday morning at 11am, followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.

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