Regular buyers of One Good Woman at Camp Hill probably had the pleasure of meeting Joe O’Connor.
The tall, lanky man with the Brooklyn accent and husband of store founder Holly O’Connor chatted with customers, sharing sometimes long and heated stories. He was as much a part of the specialty shop as the smell of freshly roasted coffee and the friendly service.
Weeks earlier, the Chestertown, Md., Resident, who had a passion for poetry, posted a message on Facebook sharing that he had tested positive for the virus.
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“I was tested on Monday and received a note today. I’m doing this as a public service so that the people I know and love can put a real face to this disease, ”O’Connor wrote.
He described symptoms of fever and extreme fatigue, much like the flu.
“The concern now is that the fever could skyrocket and the congestion could move to my lungs. The scary part is there’s actually nothing I can do about it other than bed rest and lots of water, ”he continued.
In the days following her death, friends, acquaintances and former clients of One Good Woman posted memories on social media.
“His glorious wife owned my favorite store in the whole world and he was there for moral support, deliveries and to tell the longest stories you have ever heard. He knew all about politics, travel, literature, but most of all he loved Holly, “Hol” as he always called her, “wrote Jenna Wray Dworkin.
“You couldn’t help but love him. Some would say he was a little eccentric. I always thought he was a brilliant thinker who wasn’t afraid to think outside the box. And he didn’t suffer easily from fools, ”said Stephen Drachler, a Harrisburg-area communications specialist.
“My heart breaks as the world has lost one hell of a nice guy. I know Holly better than Joe, but every time I was in her presence he was fully engaged, an accomplished gentleman, quick-witted and a wonderful human being in every way, ”wrote Karen Reed Hallowell.
For over 20 years, O’Connor was “One Good Man”, working behind the scenes of the company. In fact, the retired advertising entrepreneur is credited with naming the store, inspired by one of his mother’s favorite sayings, “All it takes is a good wife.”
In 2016, the O’Connors sold the business to longtime clients Michele Koch and Mechelle Webster. Upon retirement, the couple moved to Chestertown and focused on O’Connor’s passion for poetry.
He ran an “educational press” to help students write poetry at his alma mater, Saint Vincent College. The school has launched the Joe O’Connor Poetry Series, an annual publication of chapbooks written by members of the college community. The first book was published last fall and a subsequent book tour brought them back to Harrisburg for a visit.
From 1966 to 1967, O’Connor served in the 19th Combat Engineer Battalion in the Republic of Vietnam. He was also an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 35 years, volunteered for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, ran for public office, and served on various advisory boards.
In his last post on Facebook, O’Connor shared this: “This disease exists, and you have no idea how widespread it is, protect yourself with good distancing practices. And know that you have the full measure of my care and concern. “
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