William O'Leary

William John O'Leary

Monday, May 4th, 1925 - Sunday, July 5th, 2020
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William John O'Leary, affectionately known as Wild Bill from Cherry Hill, departed this world peacefully at home of natural causes on July 5, 2020 at 95 years old to go forth and explore the cosmos that were so dear to him.

Bill was a loving husband (and prince) to his wife, Catherine (Cath) O'Leary (née Rice). Married for 71 years, they lived out their dream with their big, beautiful family, including their children (the late) Richard (Migdalia), Jeanne (the late Jack Caruso), John (Claudia), Robert (Linda) and Marianne; grandchildren Allyson, Daniel, Brian, Joseph, Eric, Hillary, John, Shannon and Sean; and great grandchildren Oliviah, Elli, Nora, Richard, Charlie and Calvin.

His extraordinary life began in 1925 as son to Arthur and Louise, and brother to Gertrude. After graduating from Brooklyn Technical School, he started studying at Columbia University in 1943.

From 1944-1946, Bill served in the army and was stationed in Okinawa. He received the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Good Conduct Medal, the Philippines Liberation Ribbon and the World War II Victory Medal, and brought back a handful of stories (he was stung by a Portuguese man o' war and swam to shore with paralized legs, and managed to hang on to a tree after getting stuck in a typhoon).

When he returned home from service, he picked his studies back up and, in 1947, he met Cath when her brother Ray infamously said, "Bill, I have a sister..." From there, a love story of the ages unfolded.

Naturally drawn to the sciences due to his curiosity for the universe and how it works, he received his bachelor's degree in engineering from Columbia University in 1948. He even continued learning later in life, receiving an MBA from Columbia in 1954 and a master's degree in electrical engineering from Drexel University in 1967.

His thirst for knowledge, theories and writing, which he happily shared with all who surrounded him, inspired many, especially his children and grandchildren.

As a man of many talents, wherever Bill went, success would follow. For 29 years, he worked for RCA, then moved on to form his own company, Optagon Systems, where he and Cath consulted with the U.S. Navy. He was even part of a NASA effort to communicate with a lunar module.

He cared deeply, not just for his family, but also for the world around him. While Commodore of the Red Dragon Canoe Club for 10 years, he taught his children patience, respect, endurance and love through sailing and Thistle racing. Bill also ousted the practice of blackballing within the club to create a more inclusive environment. An equal rights advocate, he led by example and hired the first women to join the engineering team during his time at RCA.

After 33 years in Cherry Hill, the lovebirds retired to the Eastern Shore in Virginia. If you couldn't find Bill and Cath, they might be traveling the world... or catching a smooch in the kitchen.

While he lived his life fully, he was also a man of moderation--he was known to kick back and enjoy life's simple pleasures with his evening glass of white wine.

Those close to Bill know him for his strength, perseverance, spirit, curiosity, gentleness and kindness. He left behind big Sperry's to fill, and his memory will live on through the vivid stories he shared with us and the valuable lessons he taught us.

Ring ding ding and a dang dang do--we'll miss you, Bill.

We welcome family and friends to the visitation on Saturday, July 11, 12:30-1:30pm at the BRADLEY FUNERAL HOME, 601 NJ 73 South at Evesham Road, Marlton. The memorial service and burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Ascend Hospice, 1600 St. Georges Ave, Suite 312, Rahway, NJ 07065. For the safety of guests, masks will be required, and please remember that there are travel restrictions in place in the state of New Jersey.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Saturday, July 11th, 2020 | 12:30pm - 1:30pm
    Saturday, July 11th, 2020 12:30pm - 1:30pm
    Bradley Funeral Home
    601 NJ-73 South
    Marlton, Evesham Twp., NJ 08053
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Address not given
  • Interment

    Address not given


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The Ohio Valley Retriever Club family. sent flowers to the family of William John O'Leary.
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The Ohio Valley Retriever Club family.

Posted at 08:55pm
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
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Guy & The Tiene Family

Posted at 05:41pm
To the O'Leary Family, With great respect and deepest condolences with hope that John's influence will continue to touch many lives for years to come!
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