Date of death: 4/20/2019
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1973
Salisbury – Born October 4, 1946 in Dickinson, North Dakota, Matthew Reardon O’Hare passed away on Holy Saturday April 20th, 2019. Preceded in death by his parents Edward Coleman O’Hare, Mary Ellen (nee Reardon) O’Hare, and his siblings Margaret Ellen (Peggy) O’Hare and Michael Shannon O’Hare. Matt is survived by his siblings Bonnie Carol O’Hare, and Harold Edward O’Hare (both of Dyer, IN), Matt’s sons Thomas Matthew O’Hare (NYC), and Daniel Joseph O’Hare, his Daughter-in-law Caroline Amelia O’Hare and Granddaughter Olive Helen O’Hare (all of Salisbury, MD), his former wife, Sharyn O’Hare (Ocean Pines, MD), Brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Phil and Sherry Guarino (Rockford, IL), Niece Alicia Guarino-Hrebik (Tony Hrebik) (Rockford, Il), Nephew Adam (Jessica) Guarino (Machesney Park, IL).
If you are reading this, there’s a good chance Matt O’Hare was a character in your story. He was a villain in some, a hero in others, but most likely comic relief in yours. Matt was a rare character: weird and authentic; always out of place on the Eastern Shore; and yet an entrenched figure of the community here. His mind was a trap for the trivial, while his heart and soul were devoted to the competition of sports and the raw emotion of theater.
He embellished out of need (if it made a good story), relished a lie if it would guarantee a laugh, and it is believed he coined the phrase, “hyperbole is an art form of my people.” While he staunchly refused to participate in St Patrick’s Day (“Unlike them, I’m Irish 365 days a year!”), he was instantly enamored with anything green and Gaelic, especially if it involved The University of Notre Dame.
If you met Matt casually, you might think he attended Notre Dame, but he didn’t. He studied at two different seminaries, being kicked out of both of them by priests who would go on to be Cardinals in the Catholic Church. He was really proud of this, so I feel it needs to be mentioned. While most of his stories were at least partially untrue, this one isn’t. Or if it is, he had a bunch of people in on it, which is also possible.
Far more than Notre Dame though, he loved Worcester Country/Preparatory School. Matt dedicated his life to the school and its students. He built the Athletic program and Theater Arts program at WCS/WPS and was immensely proud of everyone that participated in those programs. As Athletic Director, he attended every game he could, including games of former students who were playing in college. Likewise, he went to see former students in plays or performances at every opportunity possible. It seemed like almost every night of the school year he was a spectator, supporting his current or former students.
And here’s the thing: he wasn’t merely in the stands or in the audience. You knew he was there. If you were playing sports, that bellowing voice from the sideline was unmistakable. I can still hear “Every Corner is a Goal!” echoing from a distant field. If you were on stage, you knew that first pause for laughter was going to have one laugh just a little louder and just a little longer than the others. Even if you didn’t know he was there before the curtain opened, it wouldn’t be long before you did.
But the audience wasn’t where he was most at home. That was always on stage. Although he didn’t perform on an official stage in the years between leaving college and his retirement, he was performing in every room he was in. He could make his voice like thunder, and he did often. Whether for fun or for fury, his roar was all too familiar to everyone who knew him. It was his most distinctive feature, as the large man with a large voice got a large amount of notice, which is always what the consummate actor craves. He commanded attention in most of the rooms he was in, but he always went out of his way to make everyone feel welcome in those rooms.
This may be why, unlike most people, Matt loved public speaking. He used any excuse to get in front of a microphone, even if it meant having to become an art auctioneer for a night. He was a member of Toastmasters, but he had perfected his craft long before joining that organization. His advice was always, “be funny, be short, and be sincere.” That’s probably why he was a sought-after keynote speaker. To say he had the gift of gab is an understatement, as he really relished getting behind a podium and talking to anyone about anything. He once even spoke to a convention of nuns, opening with a joke about Jesus getting stung to death by wild bees. He claimed some of the nuns fell out of their chairs because they were laughing so hard. There’s cause for skepticism, as we’ve all heard the joke by now, and while it’s funny, it’s not that funny.
In retirement he dedicated most of his time to acting with the Naples Players in Florida. I got to see him perform in The Drowsy Chaperone, in which he played a cigar-chomping, loud-mouthed, angry producer. Afterwards, when I asked him how he came up with the character, he replied: “Well, I bought a cigar.”
There’s no question that Matt O’Hare will be missed by his friends and family. But as people have noted, his impact will be felt in this community for a long time. He touched many lives and got a lot of laughs. And that’s what he loved. Maybe, as a favor to him, you could tell a friend one of those stories or jokes that he told too-many times. Feel free to embellish if it makes a better story, as you know he would. Or maybe get up somewhere and give a speech. Keep it funny, short, and sincere—just remember: being sincere doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be truthful.