Gerald Payton O’Hara
June 4, 1936 – April 13, 2018
Gerry passed away peacefully at his home in Davis with his family by his side following many years of heart and lung issues, which he handled with courage and grace.
Born on June 4, 1936 in San Francisco, he was raised in Bernal Heights, the sixth of seven children. His father, Daniel O’Hara, was a firefighter and his mother, Elizabeth Payton O’Hara, was a hard-working and loving mother.
After earning an Honorary Classical Diploma from St. Ignatius College Preparatory, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of San Francisco in 1958.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1958-1960 at Headquarters Company, Fort Ord, as Chief Clerk. He admitted to ducking an assignment to the commanding general so he could regularly date the love of his life, Linda Keane O’Hara, whom he had recently met a cousin’s wedding. They were married in 1961 at Carmel Mission, returning several times a year during their 57 years of marriage.
In 1966, Gerry joined the staff of the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council as a legislative advocate and moved to Davis.
Governor Ronald Reagan invited him to sit on the first Cal/OSHA Standards Board and reappointed him before leaving office. Governor Edmond G. Brown, Jr., when elected, appointed Gerry chair of the Standards Board. He served a total of 16 years, becoming familiar with all the standards as they were reviewed three times during his tenure. He had no uncertainty as to the value of a state plan.
He became Director of the Public Affairs Council in 1975, retiring in 2001 after many challenging and interesting assignments.
His heart and soul was with all issues related to labor and he quickly became widely known throughout the state as an astute expert on worker legislation, particularly occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation. Democrat and Republican governors tapped his resolve and knowledge to serve on many commissions and boards. He was also very involved in legislative matters related to social insurance. He was very proud that his 2001 appointment to the Cal/OSHA Appeals Board in the “public member” position was not opposed by any group, even though he had retired from labor.
Gerry was a daily 6 a.m. swimmer with the Davis Aquatic Masters for 30 years, a photography hobbyist since his pre-teen years, an avid book collector and reader concentrating on presidential biographies and American history, a volunteer tutor for a local adult literacy program and a classic car aficionado.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his siblings, Daniel, Thomas, Timothy and Helen O’Hara, as well as Patricia Shannon and Catherine Elizabeth Adams.
In addition to his wife, Linda, he is survived by his children, Martin (fiancée Lynn Spradlin), Brendan (Crystal) and Colin. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Sean and Connor; and Aily and Nolan and their mother, Karen Davis O’Hara.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Saint James Church, 1215 B St., Davis, on Friday, May 11, at 11 a.m. with a lunch reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Saint James Building Fund.