In Memory of
Captain Harry "Jim" O'Hara
July 30, 1919 - June 20, 2009

Cleveland Lodge No. 4 (1950-1953) Pennant No. 9435
Detroit Lodge No. 7 (1960-2009) Pennant No. 9858

Jim O'HaraCaptain Harry "Jim" O'Hara was born in Palms, Michigan on July 30, 1919 the son of Michael and Louise (Miley) O'Hara.  He was later called to service in World War II where he served aboard the USS Pueblo in the Pacific Theater, being awarded the Purple Heart.  Following his military service, Jim began his career on the Great Lakes.  By 1948, he had climbed the hawsepipe to wheelsman.

Capt. O'Hara earned his original U.S. Coast Guard navigation license in March of 1949 and that season served on the S/S William Edenborn of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company as Third Mate.  In 1950, during the time he was working for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, Jim joined Cleveland Lodge No. 4 and was issued pennant number 9435.  He was a member of the Cleveland Lodge until 1953.  By 1956 Jim was working as First Mate aboard the S/S James Watt of the Nicholson Transit Company.  In 1966 he was appointed as Captain on the Detroit Fireboat John Kendall.  He retired from the Detroit Fire Department in 1969. 

Jim enjoyed a very active retirement.  He was an avid world traveler, and enjoyed occasional trips as a guest on Great Lakes vessels, especially with his longtime friends Arne Christiansen and Commodore Ed Baganz.  He was, of course, very active in Shipmasters.

Capt. O'Hara joined Detroit Lodge No. 7 on March 1, 1960 and was issued pennant number 9858.  He would remain a member of the lodge for the remainder of his life, a total of 49 years.  Jim served two terms as lodge President (1965 and 1975), and attended numerous ISMA Conventions, where he was often seen with videocam in hand recording Grand Lodge activities.  His love of the Shipmasters was well known and he was an ardent believer in lodge rituals and traditions. 

Jim was a longtime supporter of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle and his name can be found on plaques around the museum.  Until advancing years reduced his participation, he was a regular at the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial services, where he proudly served in the uniformed honor guard.  Over the years, Jim's picture appeared many times in newspaper stories where he could be seen proudly wearing his maritime uniform, bedecked with service ribbons, and epitomizing the very image of a seasoned Great Lakes mariner.

Jim spent his final years residing with his niece Jill and her husband John Earles at their residence on Harsens Island.  There, he was able to watch passing lake vessels, which were so dear to his heart.  He died peacefully at the home on Harsens Island on June 20, 2009 at the age of 89.

A funeral Mass was celebrated on June 23 at Saints John and Paul Catholic Church in Washington Township with burial in St. Peters Cemetery in Mt. Clemens.  In lieu of sending flowers and in accordance with the wishes of the family, the lodge made a donation in Capt. O'Hara's name to Mariners' Church.  Jim is survived by his sister Patricia Skladd of Shelby Township, Jill and John Earles of Harsens Island and many nieces, nephews and friends around the world. 

The newspaper death notice and on-line guest book can be found by clicking HERE.

 - Paul M. Jagenow

The following information on Capt. O'Hara was obtained by John Polacsek from the Burton Collection at the Detroit Public Library: 

1939 - Harry J. O'Hara worked as a laborer - 4989 East Outer Drive - City Directory.
1941 - Harry J. O'Hara worked as a driver - 4989 East Outer Drive - City Directory.
1949 - Received his Navigation License in March 1949 and was listed as a Wheelsman in the Great Lakes News.
1950 - Listed as Captain in the 1950 ISMA Directory.
1954 - Listed as 1st Mate in the Nicholson Line - 11501 College Ave. - City Directory.
1957 - Listed as 1st Mate in the Nicholson Line - City Directory.
1963 - Listed as a City Firefighter - 11501 College Ave. - City Directory.
1965 - Capt. Harry J. O'Hara of the Detroit Fireboat John Kendall has been elected the President of
             Detroit Lodge No. 7 ISMA - Telescope, March 1965.
1967 - Listed as a firefighter, City Fire Department - City Directory.
1970 - Listed as employed - Ship's Captain - 11501 College Ave. - City Directory.
1974 - Listed as employed - Ship's Captain - 11501 College Ave. - City Directory.


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