When I arrived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, in 1992, to study at Marquette University in a post-graduate degree course in Journalism and Communications, I didn’t expect to bump into many Cork people! Milwaukee, a city about the size of Dublin, is on the western shore of Lake Michigan and about 150 miles north of Chicago. Its early settlers were mostly German and Scandinavian (these felt right at home in the harsh winters if the mid-west).
I dived into study and getting to understand a little more of American culture and the American Catholic Church. It was not until January of the following year (1993) that I came across Derry Hegarty, a native of Drinagh, who had emigrated to his uncles in Milwaukee in the 1950s. He owned Hegarty’s Pub – one of the few places in the city where people with Irish connections congregated now and then. It was through Derry that I came to meet John O’Shea and his wife Pat.
John left Ireland, from O’Shea’s pub in Waterfall, near Cork, and went in search of a new life in the US. He was no sooner there than he was conscripted to join the Army and sent to fight in the Korean War.
The major part of his life in the US was spent working in the famous Miller Brewery — Milwaukee’s Number 1 employer then. He also served there as the leader of the worker’s union.
John instantly became a good friend to me. He understood well what it was like to be so far from home and family and my phone regularly rang to hear John say that he and Derry were taking me out for a steak and a beer. He went out of his way to show me kindness and hospitality at family events and at the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations which were organised by the local Ancient Order of Hibernians , in which John was also a prominent member.
Sadly, the last year’s of John’s life were troubled with dementia which led to his being cared for away from home and family.
A mutual friend in Milwaukee has notified me of John’s death on Feb 10th. The notice of his death in the local paper says he “found eternal peace”. And that, indeed, is my prayer for John. May the Lord extend to him the warm welcome that John extended in this life to me and to so many others in Milwaukee. May Pat and his family be consoled by our loving God, and may his family in Ireland know that one day, we will all be reunited in Heaven where parting is no more.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.
O’SHEA, John Joseph
April 9, 1928 – February 10, 2010
O’Shea, John J.Age 81 years. Found eternal peace Wednesday, February 10, 2010. Loving husband of Patricia M. (nee Steinhoff) O’Shea. Beloved father of Maureen (Craig) Napierala, Ann (Tom) Driscoll and John (Kelly) O’Shea. Fond father-in-law of Tina (the late Kevin) O’Shea. Proud grandpa of Patrick, Allison, “Jack” and Daniel O’Shea, Meghan, Thomas and John Driscoll and Zach Napierala. Dear brother of Cornelius “Connie” (the late Rita) O’Shea, Noreen (Connie) Mulcahy, Sr. Agnes O’Shea, Irene (Pat) Horgan, Teresa (Timothy) O’Keefe. He will be further remembered by many other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his sister Gertrude and brother Mark O’Shea. Visitation Monday, February 15, 2010, at the Funeral Home from 4:00 PM until the time of the evening parish vigil service at 7:00 PM. Friends are asked to gather Tuesday, February 16, 2010, at CHRIST KING CATHOLIC CHURCH, 2604 N. Swan Blvd., Wauwatosa, from 9:30 AM until the time of the memorial mass at 10:00 AM. Immediately followed by a luncheon. Private inurnment St. John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery, Wilton, WI. John was born in Cork, Ireland, and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He worked for the Miller Brewing Company for over 30 years and served as a union official for Local #9 and he also was a very active member of the AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians in America). In lieu of flowers, memorials in his name to the Alzheimer’s Association of South Eastern Wisconsin