The adored husband of Pamela McDonald O’Hara, and the proud and loving father of Molly, Catie, and Robert O’Hara, Geoff cherished his family and he lived for the moments and the memories he made with them.
Geoff was born in Oakland County, MI, the youngest child of the late Joan Van Heusen O’Hara and the late Robert M. O’Hara. He was raised in Providence, RI and attended The Wheeler School for fifteen years from nursery through 12th grade.
Geoff earned a bachelor’s degree in Government from Colby College in Waterville, ME and a master’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in Lobbying from American University in Washington, DC.
From 1993 to 1995, he was a legislative assistant for former Congressman Ronald K. Machtley (R-RI) and from 1995 to 2001, Geoff was Vice President of Government & Public Affairs for the National Association of Chemical Distributors in Arlington, VA, where he represented business interests before Congress, federal agencies, and the media.
During his time in Washington, he met his wife, Pamela, and they moved together to Rhode Island.
In 2001, Geoff joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the Executive Director of the Eastern Region, where he was responsible for legislative and political grassroots strategy in eleven states, including Rhode Island. In 2014, he was promoted to Vice President of Regional Affairs and Advocacy, where he managed the Chamber’s seven regional offices in developing strategy and supporting public policy goals across all 50 states; in addition, he continued to lead the Chamber’s Eastern Region.
Geoff was a pillar of kindness. His magnetic personality drew people in with incredible warmth and generosity of spirit. He was smart, funny, and loving. He was an inspiring leader and a community builder. He was a true friend.
In many respects, Geoff was raised by The Wheeler School: he lived on-campus and the school playground was his backyard. Geoff’s father was the beloved and long-tenured Head of the Middle School and his stepmother was Head of the Lower School. As an adult and parent, he remained ever present at Wheeler: attending events, encouraging new initiatives, joyfully reconnecting with old friends, warmly welcoming the new, and always lending a hand. With his active involvement and deep dedication, Geoff gave to Wheeler in countless ways large and small. From 2009-2014, Geoff proudly served as a Trustee and Chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee. He separately served on the Alumni Association Board, and his roles included Vice President and President. In recognition of his leadership and positive impact across all facets of the Wheeler community, Geoff was honored with the 2017 Founder’s Award.
Geoff’s home away from home was Capitol Island, Maine. Geoff loved sailing the Sea Fever, connecting with neighbors, welcoming friends, playing card games and ring toss, relaxing in the hammock, boating into town, and of course eating endless lobster.
Geoff’s greatest love was enjoying time with his family. He embraced their interests and activities as his own and was always there to share and support. Geoff took great pride in the development of Molly’s artistic talents and Catie’s skill as a sailor. He reveled in Robert’s athletic pursuits, personally teaching him how to play every sport. He frequently walked with his dog Beau on the trails through Wheeler Farm. To Geoff, his family was his pride and joy and the very center of his life.
Geoff’s spirit will be carried on by his wife and children, his sister Kathleen O’Hara of Providence, RI, his stepmother Joan Page O’Hara of Wayzata, MN, and his wide circle of friends and colleagues.
A Celebration of Geoff’s life will be held on Friday, December 6, 2019 at 3:30pm at Central Congregational Church, 296 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906, where Geoff served as a Deacon.
Should friends wish to make remembrance gifts, the family has established the O’Hara Family Memorial Fund at The Wheeler School. Gifts may be made online (wheelerschool.org/giving) or sent to The Wheeler School, 216 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906.
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