James F.X. O’Rourke, Jr., age 72, died at The Putnam Hospital Center on February 12, 2015. He was born on June 12, 1942 in Manhattan to James and Evelyn O’Rourke of Yonkers, NY. He graduated from Manhattan Prep and in 1964 from the University of Dayton, where he received a B.F.A. through the university’s collaboration with the Dayton Art Institute.
On October 16, 1965 he married Nancy Bleakley, also from Yonkers, while he was in flight training at the Naval Air School in Pensacola, Florida. After his commissioning, he continued his flight training in Corpus Christie, Texas, and at the North Island Air Base in San Diego, California. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying the S2F Anti-submarine tracker plane from the aircraft carrier, the USS Bennington. During one mission, his plane took enemy fire and he was commended for returning his crippled plane safely to the carrier. After the war, Mr. O’Rourke was honorably discharged from active service but remained in the Naval Reserves, retiring after twenty years with the rank of Commander.
Upon returning to civilian life, Mr. O’Rourke worked as the Youth Director for the Yonkers YMCA. He and Nancy then moved to Vermont, where with partners, they built and ran Rutland Indoor Tennis, and bought their first of many thoroughbred race horses that Nancy trained. James also flew as a commuter/charter pilot for Rutland Airways. Six years later they moved back to Yonkers, where their daughter, Kathryn was born. Mr O’Rourke worked for PC Expo, a trade show management company, ultimately becoming its CEO. During this time the family settled in their present home in Holmes, NY. Upon retirement, he and his wife opened Jimmy O’s, a restaurant in Patterson, NY. Throughout his life, James, who was a gifted artist, continued to produce beautiful works of art, including landscapes, portraits and a collection of famous thoroughbred horses.
James O’Rourke is survived by his wife, Nancy, his daughter and son-in-law, Kathryn and Jesse Simerly. He is also survived by five brothers and their spouses: Brian (Nancy), Kevin (Chris), Sean (Lori), Michael (Tricia), Brendan (Kathryn), and six sisters and their spouses: Colleen (Loren) Kensinger, Kathleen (James) Rittinger, Eileen (Wilson) Hoffnagle, Mary (David) Wojtusiak, Ann (John) Romanovsky, Tara (John – deceased) Howard, Kerry (John) Malitoris. In addition, he is survived by many nieces and nephews and their spouses and children.
The family will receive visitors at Horn & Thomes Funeral Home, 83 E. Main St., Pawling on Monday, February 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A requiem mass will be celebrated on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at St. John R.C. Church, 31 E. Main St., Pawling with interment to follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, NY.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of James F.X. O’Rourke to Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517 Topeka, Kansas 66675 or www.woundedwarriorproject.org.