Our Professional Staff 2018-01-11T20:55:36+00:00

Our Professional Staff

We are united as a team in our Core Purpose: Healing Hearts, Inspiring Trust, and Comforting the Soul. We are here because of our deep desire to give each family an experience that uniquely helps them tell the story of their loved one.

Departments

Owners meet the team
Management Team meet the team
Funeral Arrangers meet the team
Service Staff meet the team
Administration meet the team
Care Center meet the team
Grief Support and Education meet the team
Advance Funeral Planners meet the team
Accounting meet the team

Owners

Neil O’Connor : President & Chief Executive Officer

Neil O’Connor

President & Chief Executive Officer
Visionary | Gregarious | Progressive

Neil O’Connor was born in 1967, as the youngest of seven children in a large Irish Catholic family. His parents, Jane and Joseph O’Connor, met because each of their families owned funeral homes. Jane's father, John Cox, owned a funeral home in Oakland, California, while Joseph's father, Joseph A. O'Connor, owned a funeral home in Los Angeles, California. John Cox and Joseph A. O'Connor were such close friends that Joseph O’Connor was the best man at Johnny Cox’s wedding.

In 1975, Neil's family moved to Laguna Niguel, where Neil attended Dana Hills High School and graduated in 1986. Three years later, he joined the family business and became part of O'Connor Mortuary, starting at an entry-level position, washing cars and performing service support, and working his way up. From 1991 through 1993, Neil served in the United States Navy as an Operations Specialist. He was training to become a Navy Seal, but unfortunately sustained an injury and was unable to continue his training.

After serving in the Navy, Neil returned to work in the family business. In 2000, he became the President and CEO of O'Connor Mortuary, carrying on the family tradition of serving the community with high value, dignity, and respect. In 2003, Neil met his wife, Lisa, while on a yoga retreat in Maui. Together, they have one son, Jesse Joseph O'Connor. Neil continues to practice Ashtanga Yoga at Pacific Ashtanga in Dana Point, and he also enjoys playing beach volleyball at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach, California.

Neil is involved with numerous local organizations and care providers, including Saddleback Hospital, Mission Hospital, Age Well Senior Services, the San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel Chambers of Commerce, TIP Trauma Intervention Program, and the Interfaith Council of south Orange County Board of Directors. He is passionate about helping the community learn the benefits of pre-planning and the value of meaningful ceremonies, and above all, he strives to continue the respected family tradition as the President and CEO of O'Connor Mortuary.

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Joseph G. Fitzgerald : Chief Financial Officer

Joseph G. Fitzgerald

Chief Financial Officer
Trustworthy | Playful | Reliable

Joseph Fitzgerald grew up in Joliet, Illinois, then moved to California in 1984 after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. While at Depauw, Joe was a two-sport athlete, playing football and baseball. He started his business career in sales with the Gallo Wine Company in Los Angeles and in the commercial real estate business as a broker. In 1992, Joe joined O'Connor Mortuary after spending seven years in the commercial real estate business. When he started, his primary responsibilities were serving as a funeral director and assisting families with arranging and directing their funeral arrangements. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer, responsible for overseeing the financial aspects of the business, which includes budgeting and strategic planning.

As a member of the O'Connor family through his marriage to Kathryn, Joe is proud and honored to carry out the family's tradition of personal family service within the community. Joe and Kathryn have three children who keep them very busy. When Joe is not at one of his children's sporting events, he enjoys staying active mountain biking and running. He is also a member of the Monarch Beach Rotary Club and was a past president of the Laguna Hills Club.

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Charles A. Ricciardi : Chief Operations Officer

Charles A. Ricciardi

Chief Operations Officer
Calming | Encouraging | Big Heart

Charles A. Ricciardi was born and raised in Pacific Beach, which used to be a small town near San Diego, California. He graduated from Mission Bay High School in 1983, where he played on the school baseball team. In addition to playing sports, Charles grew up as an avid woodworker, building cedar chests, tables, dressers, and a 14-foot boat among other projects, several of which won awards at the Del Mar Fair. His father instilled in him a strong work ethic, which was apparent in the series of jobs he took on at a young age: he worked a paper route for the San Diego Union starting at the age of 12, then as a dishwasher at a family owned Italian restaurant, and later at Souplantation while attending school at Mesa Junior College and San Diego State. His hard work earned him multiple promotions, from dishwasher to management, and eventually on to be a food and equipment sales representative for S.E. Rykoff and Co.

He began working for O’Connor Mortuary in 1992, after marrying into the family. It was a field in which he never thought he would work, but he quickly came to realize how rewarding it is to help families through the most difficult times of their lives. He has served in multiple capacities at O’Connor Mortuary, including running the Pre-Need sales department, spearheading the opening of the arrangement center in Irvine, serving as community relations liaison and crematory manager, and in his current position as COO, partner, and co-owner since 1999.

Charles is locally involved with the Lions club of Laguna Niguel as well as the Exchange Club of Irvine. His greatest accomplishment in life was meeting and falling in love with his beautiful wife, Loretta (O’Connor), and having three children who continue to amaze, thrill, and test the two of them every day: Faith, Christian, and Cameron. It is his honor to help and serve the families of Orange County when they need it the most.

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Jeff E. Turner : Chief Administrative Officer

Jeff E. Turner

Chief Administrative Officer
Mentor | Safe-Harbor | Dependable

Jeff Turner was born in Garden Grove, California and raised in Westminster, California, except for two years, 1964 to 1966, when his family lived in the village of Ollei in the Palau Islands. He graduated from Westminster High School in 1976, where he played the trombone in the jazz band, orchestra, symphonic band and marching band, and was the drum major his senior year.

Jeff married his wife Karen on February 17, 1979. Together, they had two children and lived for three years above the first mortuary Jeff worked at in Long Beach, California. During that time he completed the Mortuary Science program at Cypress College and his apprenticeship in 1987 to become a licensed embalmer and funeral director. He began working at O’Connor Mortuary in 1989 and has been a partner in the firm since 1999. He currently serves in the capacity of Chief Administrative Officer. His responsibilities include staff development and training, compliance with Federal and State agencies, IT development and maintenance, human resources, and management of decedent care.

Jeff is privileged to serve on the Cypress College Department of Mortuary Science Advisory Committee. His hobbies include computers, small boat building and sailing, a love of his since living aboard a 40-foot sailboat with his parents for three years as a teen. He and his wife are now members of the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club.

Jeff is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed in 1988 at the age of 29. Surgery and chemotherapy saved his life, and this ordeal has given him some insight into what many of the families he serves experience in the time leading to the death of a loved one. It is his great privilege to help such families at the O’Connor Mortuary.

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Management Team

Joanna : General Manager

Joanna

General Manager
Dedicated | Leader | Adventurous

Joanna started working in our Care Center in 2006. She is a Licensed Embalmer and one of our Certified Crematory Operators. She additionally manages our Care Center and staff as well as serving in the role of General Manager. An absolutely critical part of our day-to-day, Joanna is a focused leader who always finds a way to say, “Yes, we can do that.” Her attitude makes her approachable, trustworthy, and dependable.

Just a short walk away from the beach, Joanna spends a good amount of her free time there with her husband, 2 children, and family there. Her adventurous spirit loves road trips and seeing where she ends up. Her life philosophy is, “what you put out into the world is what you receive back.”

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Amy : Administration & Operations Manager

Amy

Administration & Operations Manager
Mom | Driven | Excellence

Amy came to O’Connor in 2010 after working at several other mortuaries, having at last found where she belongs. Her incredible drive, clarity of mind and ability to multi-task make her the ideal manager of our Administrative Department. Amy oversees the filing of all Death Certificates and other important documentation with a precision and efficiency that makes all of our lives easier.

In her off time, you can find Amy with her two daughters, romping around their happy place - Disneyland. Amy’s encouragement comes from the Bible, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.“ -Jeremiah 29:11

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Kegan : Operations Manager

Kegan

Operations Manager
Genuine | Connecting | Driven

After graduating from Arizona State University, Kegan knew he would be pursuing a career in the healthcare field but wasn’t sure what that would look like. End-of-life care had always been of interest to him, with a hospice clinician in the family, and when he saw the unique position we had available, he knew it would be a fit. Kegan is usually the first person to answer our phone when it rings, he is a major part of our first impression, and we have been blown away by the progressive thought, logic, and connection he has brought to his position.

Kegan loves being with people, and being social and active are his go-to’s for the weekend. He loves meeting new people, visiting the beach, enjoying a good happy hour and sharing his love of sports. A huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys, Kegan named his dog “Dallas” – and yes, Dallas is the therapy dog who patrols our halls and offers comfort to grieving families.

Kegan lives by the motto of treating others like he wants to be treated, and says “I was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.” Kegan is creating a legacy of care at O’Connor that beautifully exemplifies the ideals with which he was raised.

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Funeral Arrangers

Erica :

Erica

Inquisitive | Resourceful | Detailed

Erica has been interested by the death-care profession since a young age. She responded to the call by enrolling in the Mortuary Science department at Cypress College and touring as many mortuaries as she could. Here’s what she said about meeting us for the first time, “I felt differently from the moment I was greeted at O’Connor. I felt such a sincere and welcoming attitude from everyone.” It was meant to be. Erica’s passion for embalming is fueled by her belief that when we care for the dead, we are also caring for the living.

A native to the East Coast, Erica isn’t your typical sun-worshipper, she misses the rainy days and varied weather of her home state. Erica’s time off is spent with her wife and 4 dogs, enjoying them and her home and relaxing with a good movie.

Her life quote is "Do what you say and say what you do, live your life by just being you."

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Terese : Funeral Arranger

Terese

Funeral Arranger
Social | Bright |Inquisitive

Terese came to us as our Aflac Representative, and was definitively not looking for a career change. After spending time with our staff as our rep, however, she began to feel a pull not only into funeral service but specifically to the team at O’Connor. In her own words, “I could tell there was a great team at O’Connor… people who really care about what they do and the families they serve.

Terese’s background includes a career at Hewlett Packard, being a stay-at-home-mom, and volunteering herself into a position as the music teacher & choir director at the Mission Parish School. While her exposure to the funeral profession had come from her talent as a singer, often singing at funerals and usually helping families make musical selections that their loved one would have liked, Terese also has experienced personal loss. Her empathy for grieving families is tremendous. Terese is a people person whose compassion and instant warmth make her an ideal Funeral Arranger.

Music is still a passion of Terese’s, along with cooking, socializing and playing board games with her family and friends. Terese is also a proud Bruin and graduate of UCLA, as well as a faithful member of the Catholic Church. Her life quote is, “Do your best and God will do the rest!

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Lauren : Funeral Arranger

Lauren

Funeral Arranger
Sweet Spirit | Compassionate | Leader

We had the good fortune of hiring Lauren in 2013 as a Service Assistant, and quickly realized what a wonderful funeral arranger she would be. The youngest of our arranger team, Lauren has compassion, a drive for excellence and a personable nature that make her a perfect fit for her role.

Chowing down delicious grub, tirelessly searching for the best cup of coffee, or unwinding with yoga or a camping trip are her favorite ways to be happy with family and friends. Lauren’s life philosophy is what you expect from someone whose work sharpens her perspective on life: "Each morning when I open my eyes, I say to myself; I, not the events, have the power to be happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead. Tomorrow has not arrived yet. I have just one day, and I am going to be happy."

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Christopher :

Christopher

Father | Musician | Dedicated

Since 2002, Chris has been an invaluable part of the O’Connor team. His wealth of knowledge, abundant experience, and endless positivity are qualities that he shares easily with his coworkers. Known to make breakfast on the weekends for our crew, Chris is always finding ways to bring energy and enthusiasm to the people around him. He is truly a joyful spirit that encourages and motivates.

A definitive renaissance man, Chris spends time every week working out, surfing – his favorite past time of the last 40 years, writing and recording music. He is also an avid traveler always seeking out new places, foods & experiences. His life philosophy: Success is the continuous journey to the achievement of pre-determined, worthwhile goals.

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Stephanie :

Stephanie

Wise | Invested | Creative

Stephanie had a successful career as a Product Marketing Manager in high tech and healthcare fields, but when her father died in 2010 she felt a dear calling to help people who were grieving. She has a tender spot for the life stories that she gets to hear as a funeral arranger. She says that so many of these stories “are an inspiration” to her and we love this about Stephanie, she takes the families she serves to heart.

In 1981 she came to the U.S. from England and “pledged allegiance to the flag” in 2004 when she became a legal citizen. She says that she lives “the American dream every day,” enjoying the freedoms here but also giving back so much more. Stephanie volunteers as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the city of Laguna Niguel and in her spare time, loves to spend time with her family and friends, garden, and mingle at flea markets. She also has particular passions for Formula 1 Motor Racing and the Everton Football Club.

Stephanie is driven to not only make the world a better place every day, but to do it with joy and fun, which is made clear in her personal motto, "don’t rain on my parade."

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Steffanie :

Steffanie

Energetic | Honest | Humble

Steffanie is passionate about ministering to people. Before she came to work with us, she was a credentialed Sheriff’s Chaplain with Orange County, a volunteer with two disaster relief agencies, and had completed training at seminary to receive a degree in Biblical Counseling. For the past 6 years, she has volunteered with a homeless ministry in Anaheim, wanting to reach out to and care for people who are very often forgotten and uncared for. Steffanie says that the griefs of her own life have helped her to care for others and showed her the redemptive quality that grief can have when we use it to give back.

In the time that she cares for herself, Steffanie enjoys relaxing at the beach, working on home improvement projects, and spending time with her husband and daughter. Her favorite quote comes from the ever-inspiring, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

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John :

John

Gentle | Humble | Strong

John settled upon the funeral profession after a search for a place where he could make a meaningful difference and positively impact others. While many people would shy away from the difficulty of a position like this, John finds that there is even greater fulfillment for him when he is able to connect with people who are in true need. He is passionate about educating and guiding families through the unknown to a place of understanding and trust.

A remarkable young man, John is extremely self-disciplined and motivated. He learned from an early age that he had control over his future and that his decisions would not only shape that but his character as well. John finds respite at the gym where he works hard to not only challenge himself physically but mentally as well through meditation and a continual effort to push himself further than the time before. His personal philosophy comes from Michael Jordan, You will miss 100% of the shots you take.” A perfect fit for the John we know and are proud to have on our team.

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Monique :

Monique

Vibrant | Compassionate | Inviting

Monique has a passion for being with people in their hardest moments. Before she came to O’Connor, she was an on-call hospital chaplain who found purpose in comforting families by presenting options for them as they started their journey through grief and into healing. Monique has carried this purpose into her work here and loves having a deeply integrated role in shaping the ceremonies for the families she cares for.

As a Funeral Arranger, Monique’s greatest desire is for her families to feel that she is a safe place and that they can feel her care as she orchestrates the perfect service for their loved one.

Monique’s other passions lie in practicing massage, swing flag worship, enjoying the beach and getting creative in crafting. Her faith is rooted in her personal philosophy that comes from the book of Romans Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

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Service Staff

Christine : Service Director

Christine

Service Director
Hospitable | Fun-Loving | Kind

Christine has been an EMT, worked in Law Enforcement with the Orange County Sheriff Crime Lab coordinating examinations with the Coroners office all before deciding to go to school to become a licensed Embalmer. Her interests and abilities opened up many opportunities to her, but as she considered her personal experiences of loss, she realized the funeral profession felt like the right place. Having planned beautiful funerals for each of her parents, Christine is passionate about “paying it forward” to the families she serves.

Christine’s personal time is filled with friends and her dearly beloved family and she travels when she can find the time. Her favorite quote comes from Ferris Bueller, and this fits her so well, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

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Mitch : Service Director

Mitch

Service Director
Musician | Mindful | Warm Hearted

Mitch has been a Service Director at O’Connor Mortuary since 2010. He finds purpose in helping families through what he believes is often the biggest and most emotional event in their lives. Mitch strives to deliver flawless and thoughtful service to everyone he serves, and is truly someone we are proud to have on our team.

Mitch finds great solace in music. He both writes and plays, and is recharged by the emotional and spiritual power of music. In his own words, “My personal philosophy is to treat people like I would want to be treated. I try to make things easier for our families. Life is difficult enough.”

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Paulette : Service Director

Paulette

Service Director
Generous | Thoughtful | Servant

Paulette learned about our mortuary while serving as a Bereavement Minister at St. Edward’s Catholic Church. She found tremendous purpose in being present for people in their grief and recognized the importance that this comfort was. Of all the mortuaries she worked with, she found O’Connor to be the most impressive and found her way into a Service Director position. Paulette is known around the office for her baking, generosity, and thoughtfulness. She never needs a reason to stop by with a pumpkin log or giant cookie cake to share with everyone.

On her own time, Paulette volunteers at an assisted living where her mother lives, caring for her and many other residents, and for many years now she and her husband have trained and raised many puppies for the “Guide Dogs for the Blind” program. Paulette also attends Saddleback College Emeritus courses and spends lots of time with her friends and family. Her guiding philosophy comes from Maya Angelou, “My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry, to get my work done, and to try to love somebody, and the courage, to accept the love in return.

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Sarah : Service Director

Sarah

Service Director
Down-to-Earth | Focused | Strong

Sarah joined O’Connor in 2015 as a Part-Time Service Assistant, with the desire to give whatever extra time she could to families in need. With a background in mortuary science, Sarah’s comfort, interest, and passion are met when she can assist on a service, hand out a prayer card, and just be present for our families.

A very active mom, Sarah loves to spend time with her daughter playing soccer, taking spontaneous trips to Disneyland or just being together. Sarah’s additional love of reading and the arts make her a master at Scrabble and a very interesting person. She lives her life by the following quote: “Life is too short, live every day for today and be the best version of yourself you can be, if you learn from a mistake it can only make you stronger.

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Additional Service Staff

Remlee Bonner
Natalie Kelly
Elizabeth Eacott-Lopez
Baylee Parker
Katlynn Totten

Administration

Seema :

Seema

Harmonious | Sympathetic | Ready to Smile

Seema came to O’Connor after 5 years of working as a hospice social worker. Her time spent with patients and families going through end-of-life situations brought her into contact with many local mortuaries, and when she saw an opportunity to join the O’Connor team, she jumped at it. Joining our Clerical Administrative team in 2015, Seema loves getting to be, in her words, “an advocate for our families,” serving them with her attention to detail, efficiency, and expertise.

With two young children, Seema has her hands full, but loves spending quality time with them and watching them grow. She loves learning new things about people, cultures & life and finds the mortuary is a fantastic observation ground.

Music is still a passion of Seema’s life. Her life motto is to “Always have an attitude of gratitude,” and at O’Connor, we can attest to how diligently she lives this out each day.

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Linda :

Linda

Supportive | Adventurous | Faithful

Linda is passionate about serving people. She came to us after 22 years of working with Special Education students at the suggestion of a friend and O’Connor employee who knew that Linda would be a perfect fit. Linda’s heart for ministering to families in a time of need is deep and wide. Linda’s favorite part of the job is listening to the people she meets, hearing their stories and finding the best ways to help them.

Free time for Linda is filled with family, her kids and many beautiful grandkids doing as much laughing as they possibly can. She loves exploring, doing anything outside and enjoying the peace of the outdoors. Her faith in God is a profound part of her life and her philosophy, one of her favorite quotes is helpful to all of us, “Perspective eliminates the despair, LOVE BIG.”

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Jennie :

Jennie

Hospitable | Thoughtful | Peaceful

Jennie is perhaps one of the most naturally gifted and beautifully qualified people to work in the funeral profession. For 10 years she worked in emergency room administration management and helped families through illness, injury, and sometimes death. Her professionalism, calming demeanor, and organizational strengths have added tremendously to the strength of our team.

Jennie’s heart is for people, but the people most precious to her are her thriving teenagers, her daughter is involved in teaching special needs children and her son is pursuing his Eagle Rank in Boy Scouts. Jennie loves hiking herself and earned the Woodbadge rank, the equivalent to Eagle Rank just a few years back. She also has a deep love of painting and finding ways to be creative.

Jennie’s life follows her philosophy, “Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.

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Andrea :

Andrea

Cheerful | Poised | Radiant

Andrea is one of the most driven, quick-to-learn, and positive people we have brought onto the team. Andrea felt drawn to the mortuary profession, believing that “I would be learning so much about life, not just death” – a rather profound insight for our youngest staff member. Administration is a grueling and deadline-driven department, but Andrea loves the quick pace and insists that it keeps her work steady and efficient.

Her desire to be of help doesn’t end with people, Andrea has rescued birds, dogs and cats, and volunteers in her free time with OC Small Paws and the OC Animal Shelter. She loves spending time with her friends & family, playing volleyball and exploring the outdoors.

Andrea’s favorite quote is, “A bird is safe in its nest, but that is not what its wings are made for.….” She takes to heart its message by living boldly when new people or opportunities come her way. In her own words, “It’s a scary world we live in, but it’s scarier to hide away from the beauty of it.

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Rosemary :

Rosemary

Comprehensive | Efficient | Dependable

In 2007, Rosemary joined the team in the unique and supporting role of Director’s Assistant. Her position requires a detailed editorial focus as she oversees all obituaries and all of our printing. She ensures that our memorial folders and prayer cards are typo-free and customized to illustrate the story of your loved one. She loves how pictures truly tell a story, and takes delight in restoring old photos to their original vibrancy.

She enjoys walking, reading and spending time with her family, and loves finding time to play her piano and classical guitar. She lives by the golden rule, “Treat others as you wish to be treated.”

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Patricia :

Patricia

Mom | Courageous | Compassionate

Pat started working at O’Connor in 1993 doing administrative work before being given the monumental task of pioneering our community outreach program. Over her 20 years at O’Connor Mortuary, Pat has touched and connected with thousands of the professionals and volunteers in our community, sharing valuable resources and educational programs with them. Her desire to learn and care for others continues today in her semi-retirement, as she continues to meet with families we have served to learn about their experience and offer them her wealth of resources.

A mother of four and grandmother, Pat spends her days with family, or attending to her Rotary Club - of which she was recently elected President!

Her life philosophy comes from the Dalai Lama: “If you shift your focus from yourself to others, extend your concern to others, and cultivate the thought of caring for the well-being of others, then this will have the immediate effect of opening up your life and helping you to reach out.”

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Care Center

Leah :

Leah

Diligent | Focused | Compassionate

After years of working in the restaurant industry, Leah made the brave decision to change her life and made a rather unusual switch to the field and study of Mortuary Science. She received her degree from Cypress College in 2015, the same year she began her apprenticeship at O’Connor, as an embalmer working in our Care Center.

Leah’s change in course was prompted by her desire to give back to her community and do something that was fulfilling not only for herself but for the people that her work benefits. Although she says that the Care Center can be an emotionally hard place to work, she doesn’t feel that way, “For me, it is a room filled with people who were valued, loved, and gifted: people with history, experiences, and accomplishments. I feel honored to care for our families loved ones so they can memorialize them one last time for all they were.”

Leah loves life at home reading, cooking, spending time with her two teenage sons, and playing with her pets which include, a dog, two kitties, and a Sulcata Tortoise.

There are 3 words that Leah lives by, “Just be still,” – 3 very special words spoken to her by her grandmother that continue to remind her how important the present moment is.

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Katie :

Katie

Creative | Calm | Deliberate

Katie found her way into the funeral profession when the time to plan her grandmother’s ceremony fell largely upon her. While this wasn’t the ideal way to discover her calling, it awakened her to the meaning and purpose that lies within caring for the dead and bereaved. Katie says that she treats everyone she cares for “like they are my Nana” – it’s her life commitment to give others a treasured experience, memory, and ceremony.

At home, Katie is “obsessed” with her kitties, Duff & Snowball, she is a frequenter of Disneyland, and loves taking off for trips to the mountains or beaches. Katie is a beautiful blend of a fun and spunky personality with a deep and wise spirit. Her life philosophy is one tried and true, “treat others the way you wish to be treated.” We are so happy to have her on our team.

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Melissa :

Melissa

Relatable | Contemplative | Cheerful

Melissa’s first exposure to the funeral profession was through a close friend of hers whose family owned and operated the mortuary in their hometown of Camarillo. Melissa recalls the time spent in and around the funeral home as the time when her interest in death, both physically and spiritually, began. When Melissa got to O’Connor, the family-owned atmosphere felt very personal and familiar to her. Melissa says it is “an unexplainable satisfaction to be able to cross paths with so many people dead or alive and be able to be a part of their story.”

When she is able to, Melissa heads home to Camarillo to spend time with her dad who is also her best friend. The rest of her time is spent with her boyfriend, and in Starbucks sipping coffee and reading up on philosophy, a continual passion of hers.

Melissa’s favorite quote is from philosopher, Alan Watts, “Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal, for the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever….

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Angela :

Angela

Reliable | Relaxed | Proactive

Angela completed her degree in Mortuary Science at Cypress College in 2015 and began her apprenticeship with us the same year. Angela brings a calming but active presence to our team as she is eager to learn but careful to not rush the process. She has the dream of owning her own funeral home some day and thought O’Connor would be the perfect place to start.

Angela is dedicated to her family, particularly her young daughter, Aria. Whether they are hitting the disc golf track or enjoying a day at home, in her own words, her “free time is family time.” Angela is also very creative, a talent of hers that finds an outlet in her work as a Care Center Specialist.

Her life is lived around the famous quote from James Dean, "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as though you'll die today."

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Bridget :

Bridget

Bright | Committed | Reliable

From an early age, Bridget knew she wanted to carve a place for herself in the world of healthcare. With the goal of becoming an RN, she started out as a Certified Nurse Assistant in several different hospitals. Her position gave her exposure to death, and surprisingly, clarified for her that her interests in caring for people lay on the other side of life. Bridget started at the Cypress College Mortuary Science program in 2015 and graduated in 2016 with the degree and training to serve families in a way that she is passionate about.

Bridget is the proud mom to 2 young (and very handsome) boys and together they share a deep love of soccer and hockey. Her days off are at soccer practice or filled with family and lots of little cousins. Bridget’s life motto is "You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take" – in her own words, “Going back to school for the mortuary science program as a single mom was definitely taking a shot and I’m so glad I did, it was the best shot that I could have taken for myself and my kids.”

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Grief Support and Education

Becky Lomaka, MA, CT : Director of Grief Support and Education

Becky Lomaka, MA, CT

Director of Grief Support and Education
Creative | Pioneer | Joyful

Becky signed on as the Director of Grief Support and Education in 2013, with a determined passion to bring education, encouragement, and validation to the professional and volunteer communities we interact with. Becky believes that “Education is our most powerful tool in our efforts to help the community learn more about how to cope with death and the journey of grief after loss.” Through our quarterly workshops, seminars and in-service programs Becky is making a difference in our community and changing grief-care for the better.

Becky is proud to be a “Hockey Mom” who spends much of her free time watching her two boys and her husband out on the rink. She loves getting together with her close-knit neighborhood friends for dinners in the backyard and enjoys walking with Sandy, their yellow lab. Becky truly lives her life by the advice of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

To contact Becky for more information about community events & resources simply email her at: blomaka@oconnormortuary.com.

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Molly Keating, MA, CT :

Molly Keating, MA, CT

Passionate | Enthusiastic | Book Lover

Molly joined the O’Connor team in 2009 as a weekend receptionist without plans of a mortuary career. Over the years, as her job evolved, she discovered a passion for grieving people and was able to fuse that with her love of writing. Molly now heads up our blog, Facebook and other social media pages, assists with our quarterly educational workshops, and maintains internal organization and structure. In 2015 Molly received her Certification in Thanatology (CT), the study of Death, Dying & Bereavement. Molly is driven to provide helpful resources to the online and real-world communities.

With a master’s degree in English Literature, Molly spends a lot of her free time reading and writing. She can also frequently be found at Disneyland or in a good coffee shop laughing with her husband. Her favorite quote comes from one of her favorite books, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables: “Woe, alas! To him who shall have loved bodies, forms, appearances only. Death shall take all from him. Try to love souls, you shall find them again.”

To contact Molly for more information about the blog or community events & resources simply email her at: mkeating@oconnormortuary.com.

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Advance Funeral Planners

Julie :

Julie

Attentive | Caring | Positive

Julie came to the field of Advance Planning through her own experience after the death of her mother. Making funeral arrangements during that time became emotionally overwhelming, which led her to want to help others through the planning process. There is fulfillment in doing something you believe in and Julie deeply values the gift of creating personal and unique ceremonies for the families and veterans she gets to work with.

She stays active during her personal time, traveling, cooking, hiking, playing with her dog Sammie and enjoying her family and friends. Her personal mantra defines her approach to her work and personal interactions,

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”
~ Greek Proverb

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Luis :

Luis

Believer | Patriot | Sportsman

Luis came to O’Connor with 15 years of insurance experience and a desire to care for the families in his community. Pre-planning quickly became a new passion for Luis, who finds great purpose in helping families plan ahead for the most difficult days in a person’s life: dealing with the loss of a loved one. In his time at O’Connor, Luis has helped hundreds of families create memorable and meaningful funeral ceremonies tailored to meet their personal needs and wishes.

A father to three sons, Luis’ free time is packed and fully committed to his children, and he spends lots of time with friends and family in the great outdoors, at the beach, or a favorite sporting event. Luis’ life is encompassed by a quote from the legendary Bob Marley, “Love the life you live, and live the life you love.” Every day, his goal is to do just that.

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Angel :

Angel

Charitable | Trustworthy | Detail-Oriented

Angel loves people, plain and simple. Her deep drive to be with, learn from and serve people makes her a wonderful Advance Planner. Joining the team in 2015, Angel made a splash as our first Korean speaking employee and has been invaluable to us and the Korean community. When Angel was 27 she lost her 51-year-old mother to stomach cancer. Her experience showed her the importance of preparing and pre-planning.

Angel is also one of the most active people you will ever meet! She married her high school sweetheart from Laguna Hills High School and they have 4 wonderfully active children. Angel is an active volunteer at her children’s schools, in the LHHS Alumni Association, her LDS church community and in supporting her children’s sports teams.

Angel’s family has adopted and memorized their family philosophy, “All life is based on the fact that anything worth getting is hard to get. There is a price to be paid for anything. Scholarship can only be bought at the price of study, skill of craft or technique can only be bought at the price of practice, and eminence in any sport can only be bought at the price of training and discipline. The world is full of people who have missed their destiny because they would not pay the price. No one can take the easy way and enter into any kind of glory or greatness.” – William Barclay

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