It would be impossible to express the impact O’Connor made on the lives of young people he coached and taught in the Calhoun City Schools. The same could be said of the Monroe Area Comprehensive High School where he served as principal after leaving Calhoun in 1980.
Bob O’Connor appeared on the Calhoun scene in the summer of 1958 when he and “Bubba” Faulkner help move the late Barney and Emily Oldfield from Nashville. Barney served in teaching and administrative capacities in Calhoun and in the Gordon County School System.
While on that trip of assistance, Bob and Bubba were offered, and accepted, teaching and coaching jobs by Vassa Cate, then principal of Calhoun High. Those two men arrived in Calhoun as football practice was about to begin to join Bob Cox’s football coaching staff.
It could truthfully be said that Bob O’Connor graduated from Father O’Ryan High School in Nashville. The path traveled was not a straight and continuous line from early days. In December of his senior year, O’Connor quit school at age 17 and joined the Air Force, serving for four years. During that time he did tour of duties in the Korean War. After his discharge he completed work at Father O’Ryan and received his diploma.
In addition to coaching football, O’Connor and Faulkner served for years in vital capacities in the basketball and other athletic programs at Calhoun. They joined Fred Shaver, who later became head football coach, and Barney Oldfield as the bulk of the high school coaching staff for several years.
O’Connor, Faulkner, Barney and Emily Oldfield were all friends while in school at Peabody in Nashville and their coming to Calhoun united them for many years in their lives.
Bob did not long remain the bachelor he was when he came to Calhoun. In August of 1962, he met a pretty nurse during an emergency trip to old Gordon Hospital on Pine Street. It was truly love-at-first-sight. Four months later on December 21, Bob married that pretty nurse, Peggy Wood from Sandersville.
The O’Connors have two children. A daughter Shelley is married to Brett Medders and a son Michael who lives in Atlanta. The Medders daughter, Tess, a senior at Calhoun High, was recently named the 2009 Calhoun High Homecoming Queen. Their son, Austin, completed Diesel Engine training in Colorado in the spring.
O’Connor’s career was long and varied. As an administrator, he first served as assistant principal at Calhoun High. Then, he followed Mattie Lou Strain’s long and illustrious career as principal of Calhoun Junior High, warmly referred to for years as “Strain’s Academy.”
The period at the junior high was followed by four years as principal at Calhoun High. From there he went to Monroe where he was principal until his retirement in 1985. Peggy O’Connor taught for 22 years in the Monroe School System.
The impact made by Mr. O’Connor can be determined in many ways. His former players, students and teachers indicated this by the vast numbers who remembered and attended the visitation and funeral.