It is with great sadness we report the passing of one of the Academy ‘Old Guard’, Terry O’Connor, 3 Dan.
Born in Wellington, Terry attended Lyall Bay school and Wellington Technical College (now Wellington High School) before his stint in the Airforce. He boasted that he had the opposite of colour blindness in that he could discern more colours than most people.
His Architecture studies took him to Auckland University.
Terry started his Judo training in Auckland in the 1960s with Laurie and Clair Hargreaves.
Returning to Wellington, he joined the Academy in its days at the old YMCA on Willis Street where he trained with the likes of Mick Yarrow, Bob Hannah and Larry ‘the strangler’ Hiland. He was also a regular at the old Budokan as well.
Terry was a mainstay of the old YM, through the Miramar days and later the Wellington Judo Academy back in the city. He eventually achieved the rank of 3 dan.
Terry was tireless in his support for the members of the Academy through its many changes in name and location through the years.
His journeys with both his career and judo took him around the world. He attended the Kodokan Kata Course with Patrick Toner for several years through the 1990s. He delighted in relating many of their escapades with Rick Littlewood and John Haanstra from these times.
In the 1990s, when martial arts expert Toshishiro Obata visited Wellington, Terry delighted in studying swordsmanship with him. He was a keen collector of authentic Japanese swords.
When returning from a stint supervising a building project in Macau, Terry’s first though upon getting back to the Academy was how he could contribute. The Academy, responded to his request by making him the Wellington Judo Academy’s first ever Life Member. He was moved by this gesture, although only slightly as moved as the Academy members were to be able to honour him in this way.
Terry did not enjoy the best health in his last years.
He shared his 20 April birth date with his dear friend Patrick Toner.He was 8 years younger than Patrick, who passed 2 years before Terry.
Terry turned 85 just before his passing on 29 April 2023.
Terry was soft spoken, patient, gentle and generous. He will be missed by those who knew him. A great teller of stories about his life, he often said in his last years just how grateful he was to have had the experiences he had.
Terry was married twice and has an extensive family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren he leaves behind.
The Academy’s condolences go to them at this time.
20 April 1938 – 29 April 2023
Hukutsu no Seishin
Never, ever give up