Our Professional Staff 2019-07-12T14:42:28-07:00

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 :

Joanna

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 :

Amy

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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Funeral Arrangers

Corinne :

Corinne

Bright | Eager | Positive

Corinne attended San Diego State University with a double major in Forensics and Theater – proving herself a deeply interesting person early on. After spending a few years volunteering with the Santa Ana Police Department Forensics team, Corinne took a career test that pointed her in the direction of a funeral home and she followed it to our doorstep.

Her contagious positivity and considerable passion to help people in extreme need make her a bright and warm person on our staff. Corinne is a people person, always looking to connect over meals with friends, scary movies, or her latest hobby, beach kickball.

Her personal philosophy about life is reflected in her attitude entirely; “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”

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Teresa :

Teresa

Heartfelt | Dedicated | Servant

Teresa came to O’Connor after experiencing profound loss in her life. Her experiences with grief gave her a compassion for bereaved people and a desire to serve them. Already active as a volunteer in her community, Teresa’s work with us is simply an extension of her desire to care for those in need.

She deeply enjoys cooking and hosting people she loves at her home. She is an avid LA Galaxy and Dodger fan and an spending time with her recently adopted beagle. Her favorite quote is one she lives her life by, “Spread Love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." – Mother Teresa

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Anna :

Anna

Thoughtful | Empathetic | Creative

Anna was originally working as a hairdresser when she discovered her calling to the funeral profession. When a friend and client of hers died unexpectedly, Anna was asked to do her hair and cosmetics. That experience was deeply meaningful to her and totally changed the trajectory of her work. Desiring to use her talents in ways that held meaning and healing for families, she enrolled in Mortuary Science School to study and practice embalming.

Music holds a special place in Anna’s life, she loves attending concerts and discovering new artists. She loves vintage clothing, spending time with her dogs, and catching up with her friends and family. Anna’s passion for meaning and living a life that has value is summed up in her favorite quote that comes from Dolly Parton, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

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Lisa :

Lisa

Active | Balanced | Calming

Lisa worked in the wedding industry for 11 years and over that time was exposed to and planned funeral ceremonies. She began to realize through those experiences that that was what she wanted to do full-time. Serving families in need is at the heart of what brings her fulfillment. She comments on the “circle of life” that she has worked in; from the beginning milestone of weddings and now to the profound experience of helping families say goodbye.

A mother, writer, and yoga practitioner, Lisa is intentional to keep herself active and balanced. She attends Mariners Church and can also frequently be found at Dog Beach with her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Zimba.

One of the life philosophies that moves her comes from Helen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

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Veronica :

Veronica

Joyful | Intentional | Creative

Veronica’s first encounter with a personal loss occurred in her adulthood and prompted a sudden and dramatic career change. Enrolled at Cypress College’s Mortuary Science program, she met several advocates for O’Connor and knew it was where she wanted to be. She particularly loves the intentional layers of contact that our staff desires to have with the families we serve.

Her time at home is spent catching sunsets and movies with her husband, enjoying belly laughs with her girls, finding new restaurants and catching up on her Korean dramas. Also an active artist, Veronica’s art work has been featured in both local and international exhibitions. Her favorite quote is the song lyric, “Can’t forget, we only get what we give.”

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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 :

Terese

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, “Work like everything depends on you, but pray like everything depends on God!”

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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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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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Katlynn :

Katlynn

Welcoming | Attentive | Positive

From an early age, Katlynn knew that she wanted to work in a profession that cared for people in need. She is passionate about guiding families through their first steps of loss and creating an experience for them that honors their loved one.

Katlynn is a complete people person who loves being out whether it’s trips to Disneyland or touring museums with friends or spending time with her family and pets (she has a LOT of pets!). Katlynn also enjoys more creative endeavors and takes time to practice photography and savor a good novel. Her favorite bit of wisdom comes from the famous author, Virginia Woolf – “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

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Service Staff

Morena :

Morena

Genuine | Calming | Dedicated

Since the young age of 5, Morena has known she wanted to work in a funeral home. Her deep desire to help people moved her to pursue a career in Emergency Medical Services where she says, “I truly realized my skills and passion for comforting people amidst tragedy.” Her work as an emergency responder gave her an amazing foundation for helping people in crisis and need. Her desire at O’Connor is to care for and lift the burdens of our grieving families. She knows the power of brief but intentional and compassionate interactions.

Her home-life involves cooking from scratch, watching sci-fi movies with her dog, Churro, and trips to Disneyland. She takes inspiration from her favorite quote from Winnie-the-Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

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Pippa :

Pippa

Adventurous | Outgoing | Energetic

Pippa came to us with a background in event planning but was looking to work in a field with more significant meaning. Planning funeral ceremonies and receptions was the perfect combination of her skill set and heart. Pippa loves meeting people and giving them the gift of flawless events with every detail taken care of.

Pippa has lived and worked all over the world, from Australia, to the UK and finally here. She is passionate about the welfare and re-homing of stray dogs and has adopted two, so far. Rocco, a rescue from Mexico has inspired her to learn Spanish in her spare time.

A phrase that guides her life is, “Your focus determines your reality,” – an idea she has taken to heart.

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Natalie :

Natalie

Adventurous | Genuine | Kind

Natalie’s journey into the funeral profession began young in life with the sad death of her beloved grandfather. When she contemplated later in life what she would like to do, this singular event stood out to her, I remembered how meaningful it was to have seen my grandpa and how much it helped in my grieving process and I thought it would be amazing to give that to other families.”

A girl of surprising talents, Natalie played the flute for 9 years before moving over to a 5-pound marching baritone and joining a drum corps. This experience let her travel all over and even perform at Lucas Oil Stadium. She also enjoys frequent trips to Disneyland and time with her sweet rescue dog, Luna. Her life quote come from Buddha, “Our life is the creation of our mind.”

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Ann :

Ann

Giving | Warm-Hearted | Safe

Ann is very community-minded and in her search for the right professional fit, it was important to her that the employer be pro-active in reaching out and being a source of local communal support. She found that at O’Connor. Ann appreciates the opportunity to be a person that can answer difficult questions for families and put them at ease in a very difficult time.

Her personal time is similarly spent in giving to others through her love of cooking and baking for her friends and family. Over the years Ann has also been active in numerous volunteer organizations that focus on feeding and caring for the homeless.

Her life philosophy comes from C.S. Lewis, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

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Hannah :

Hannah

Empathetic | Compassionate | Energetic

From a young age Hannah knew that she wanted to work in the funeral profession as an embalmer. At the age of 16 she started working at nursing homes caring for the elderly with the hope of making their experiences there “unforgettable.” While she initially planned to study nursing, her calling to the funeral profession eventually won out. Hannah loves that her work gives her a connection point with people who are in need of a compassionate listener and guide. Not only is she proud of what she does, she has bravely followed her passion into a field that is as difficult as it is meaningful.

Hannah has been very active in soccer since she was a child and continues to make exercise and athleticism a routine part of her life along with travel and frequent trips to the beach. She says that she tries to truly live by showing “kindness with love” and that there is always a place in her heart for anyone needing kindness or care.

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Christine :

Christine

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 :

Mitch

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 :

Paulette

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 :

Sarah

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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Administration

Erika :

Erika

Active | Compassionate | Helpful

Erika knew from an early age that she wanted to live a life that served people in challenging times. A student athlete for 16 years, Erika was an avid swimmer and was recruited by the University of Northern Colorado where she majored in Criminal Justice, seeing an avenue there for helping victims and families. When she heard about an opportunity to work at a funeral home she jumped at it feeling that this was a perfect fit for her passion.

Full of energy, Erika likes to stay active with yoga, scuba diving, and spending time at the beach with her sisters.

Every day she tries to live by the quote, “Listen to understand, don’t listen to respond.” She believes in the power of presence and that listening can bring more comfort than words. We are so grateful she is on our team.

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Emily :

Emily

Reflective | Empathetic | Thoughtful

Emily unexpectedly came across O’Connor in her job search and was as surprised as she was delighted by the job fit. As a part of our Administrative team, Emily loves that everyone at O’Connor is involved in caring for the families we serve. Even though she may not meet many of them face-to-face, the detailed work that she does makes a huge difference.

An avid reader and aspiring author, Emily is working on her first novel and gives much of her free time over to cups of tea and piles of books. She enjoys meditation, quiet walks and her favorite quote comes from Les Miserables, “… even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

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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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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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Care Center

Susy :

Susy

Bright | Genuine | Welcoming

Susy studied forensic anthropology at Cal State University of Los Angeles and from there decided to pursue her degree in Mortuary Science at Cypress College. She found her way to O’Connor because she fell in love with the compassion and mission of our team. Her values aligned perfectly with our company culture and we were thrilled to invite her to our team.

Susy is passionate about hiking, loves pizza and has a soft spot in her heart for turtles. Her quote is a lyric from her favorite band, Paramore, "Don't miss a chance to move forward. Daydream a little. Don't be scared to embrace the way that it hurts just to grow. You'll look back and your heart will thank you for not standing still when what you needed the most was to move forward."

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Jeremy :

Jeremy

Kind | Understanding | Sincere

Jeremy’s one requirement for the work he does is that it leave a meaningful impact on other’s lives. He saw the funeral profession as a critical time in life where people are most in need of compassionate care. In his own words, he is “passionate about finding ways to be compassionate.”

He is an avid reader, diehard LA Chargers fan and a frequenter of the outdoors – Big Sur being a particular favorite to visit. Jeremy sums up his outlook on life with the belief that “there is no such thing as an unsolvable problem. Anything can be fixed with the right tools, perhaps a new perspective, a new attitude, or even just will power.” – An attitude and mindset we are thrilled to have on board with us.

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Sara :

Sara

 Thoughtful | Caring | Bright

In high school Sara was fascinated by anatomy and biology and knew from the class she had a special interest in those fields. But as she made her way to college her plans were to become a film director and not a funeral director! With the help of a friend she found her way to Cypress College and the Mortuary Science program. Sara loves that the funeral profession gives her a place to practice her passion and help people take important steps in their grief journey.

Sara is an avid coffee-addict and concert-goer, and often finds herself at her grandparents’ Mexican restaurant in LA where she learned how to cook and still enjoys helping there and being with family.

Her favorite lyric comes from Hispanic singer, Mercedes Sosa, “Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto,” which translates to “Thank you to life, which has given me so much.”

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Daniel :

Daniel

Caring | Tender-Hearted | Helper

Originally interested in a future in Social Work, Daniel has a degree in Human Services. But after the loss of several close friends, Daniel felt the importance of the work done in the funeral profession. He has always been drawn to opportunities to be in the trenches; helping people at times of intense need of care and comfort. It was also important to him to work for a family-owned funeral home where the expectations of care for families aren’t standardized or on a minimum. Daniel is all about giving his best and challenging himself to grow as a compassionate professional and individual.

Daniel is an adventurous and curious person by nature and deeply enjoys hiking, exercising, sports, and spending time with the people he cares about. He is someone who truly lives by the philosophy that guides him of treating others the way you would want to be treated.

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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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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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Grief Support and Education

Becky Lomaka, MA, CT :

Becky Lomaka, MA, CT

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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Lindsey :

Lindsey

Active | Joyful | Strong

Lindsey was excited to join the O’Connor team because of what a friend and now coworker shared about the culture and purpose of our team. Lindsey’s care for people, attention to detail, and desire to customize our services to meet a family’s wishes make her a perfect addition to our mission.

Full of energy, Lindsey coaches basketball at Aliso Niguel High School where she teaches her students to value competition as much as heart and character. She has two dogs who she takes along on all of her adventures from hiking to surfing! She loves exploring California and spending time with her friends and family. Her favorite quote is,

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.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

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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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Monika :

Monika

Dedicated | Mindful | Compassionate

Monika is a multifaceted professional who cares deeply about working with people to give them the best. She has owned her own business, is fluent in Spanish, and holds two degrees from UC Davis in Industrial Engineering and Economy. Monika is highly skilled and passionate about Advance Planning and crafting the perfect plans for the families she serves.

Free time for Monika is spent on her interests, traveling, rock collecting, hiking, and cooking. She loves meeting new people and spending time with her kids. The personal philosophy that she lives by comes from the brilliant Mark Twain, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

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Accounting

Donna :

Donna

Calming | Confident | Driven

Donna has an extensive and impressive background in Accounting and Human Resources, and while working at a mortuary had never been on her radar, she was drawn to the unique combination of her gifts that could be used here. Donna ensures that some of the essential components of our company are run with excellence. Donna is detailed, capable and steady, an ideal and trustworthy person to have managing the more technical elements of our work.

Her free time is spent volunteering to serve those in need and if she gets time to herself, she is an avid reader and relaxing at the beach. Perhaps her greatest joy is in the sweet company of her daughter and two grandsons. Her face lights up whenever she can share time with them. Donna is guided by this passage from the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’”

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