Robert J. ‘Bob’ O’Leary, 73, of Andover passed away on January 11, 2022 surrounded by his family. Born in West Milford, NJ, he was the son of the late Joseph and Eileen (Culhane) O’Leary.
Bob grew up in Pompton Lakes, NJ, where he graduated from DePaul Catholic High School, and thereafter began a lifelong romance with New York City. He earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy (Fordham) and master’s degrees in special education (City College of New York, Lehman College) and computer science (Polytechnic University). During those years, Bob drove a cab, served as a counselor with the city’s Board of Education, and worked as a special education teacher in the City and Mt Vernon for a number of years. True always to his conscience, Bob actively protested against the Vietnam War as well.
Upon leaving the city, Bob’s career path turned to information technology, first with Allied Signal and thereafter in the newly evolving biotech sector. Bob led an IT group supporting Hoffman-LaRoche’s research, and in 1993 moved to Andover where he spent the lion’s share of his professional tenure as a manager and director of IT projects and groups, first at Genetics Institute which today is part of Pfizer Pharma’s biotech division. Bob was known for his ability to engage people, see the ‘big picture’, and facilitate collaboration.
Bob is survived by his beloved wife, Toby (Coltin) O’Leary; children, Kevin O’Leary and his wife Andrea of Andover, Andrew O’Leary and his wife Tristi Finkbeiner of Fort Knox, KY, and Emma O’Leary and her husband Marty Milne of Pittsburgh, PA; brothers, Joseph O’Leary and his wife Maggie, and Steven O’Leary and his wife Lorna; sisters, Stacey O’Leary and Cathy Zimmermann and her husband Bob all of NJ. He also leaves his granddaughter, Eisley as well as many nieces and nephews. He loved his family dearly.
Bob had many interests. Chief among them was a love of the outdoors. Travel adventures with Kevin, Andrew, Emma, Toby, and friends, were often the source of his delightful stories. He loved to bicycle and hike, whether off the grid with son Kevin in Greece, or throughout the White Mountains with most anyone! He attended Springstein concerts, as many as he could, and played a little keyboard himself. Following retirement, his continuing interest in giving back to others led him to teaching English as a Second Language, and to building with Habitat for Humanity for two years. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago, he responded by participating in clinical trials while continuing to meet life full on.
If you asked Bob’s family and friends to list his most memorable qualities, they would surely include his kindness, compassion, curiosity, and deep love of family and life. These shone through in his sweet smile.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Alzheimer’s Association.
A celebration of Bob’s life will take place this spring, as COVID-19 allows.