Paul M. O’Rourke

November 07, 1926 ‒ March 07, 2016

Marion, Ohio

Paul Michael O’Rourke, age 89, of Marion, passed away Monday, March 7, 2016 at Fairhaven Community in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.  Paul was born November 7, 1926, in Toledo, Ohio to the late Paul J. and Louise A. (Flanagan) O’Rourke. In 1944 Paul graduated from Kenton High School, enlisted proudly serving his country during WWII in the Navy.  After an honorable discharge, Paul attended Bowling Green State University and later worked for American Tobacco and St. Regis Paper Company.  He married Norma Buck December 1, 1951 who survives.

A dedicated and energetic Educator starting in 1952, Paul was a well-educated man and enjoyed passing along his wealth of knowledge to his students at Harding High School where he was the Chairman of the Social Studies Department and taught Government until his retirement in 1980. He directed the Intramural Sports programs and was the Tennis Coach for a number of years. In 1961, Paul became the first Marion City Recreation Director and stayed with the department until 1979. He set up numerous programs for all ages. His work with youth was particularly noteworthy including the “Swinger Youth Program”. He worked an additional twenty years for Showe Property Management, managing multiple properties at different locations.

Paul was a member of St. Mary Church in Marion, Knights of Columbus Council 671, AARP and The Retired Teachers Association. He enjoyed volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul. Best known as “The Handsome one”. He was also a lifelong fan of Notre Dame Football. Go Irish!

Paul is survived by his wife, Norma; children, LCDR Navy Ret Michael (Claire) O’Rourke, Kevin O’Rourke, and Kathy O’Rourke all of Marion; and sister, Patricia Scanlin of Galloway, Ohio.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10:30 am Monday, March 14, 2016 at St. Mary Catholic Church with Father Thomas Buffer presiding.  Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery where Military Honors will be presented by The Marion County United Veterans Council.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Paul’s honor to St. Mary Church or St. Vincent de Paul.

Gunder/Hall & Snyder Funeral Home is honored to serve the O’Rourke Family and online condolences may be expressed to the family by visiting

  • We have shared many good times with you and your family.
    Paul’s exuberant and generous personality will surely be missed, but fond
    memories of him will always be in our hearts and minds.
    PMO was one of a kind.

    Praying that pleasant memories will ease your sorrow and bring joy to your heart.

    Sincere sympathy,
    The Honnigfords: Dave,” Aunt Janet”, Joan, Polly, Mark, Vince & Bruce

  • My sympathy and condolences to the family.
    Coach developed my interest in tennis at a young age and became my coach
    at Harding. I’ve always appreciated his coaching influence. I am sure all
    of his American Government students over the years appreciated his gift
    of teaching the foundations of our government, as I did. Rest in peace, coach.

  • Mr. O’Rourke taught me to think hard and carefully….and thus taught me how to teach . His expectation that we be responsible for our own thoughts was a true gift. He pushed us to debate the Kennedy election. I would make him moderator of today’s TV debates and that would bring back civility, respect and intelligence. I salute the best teacher I had at Harding. Grateful member of the class of 61.

  • My sincerest condolences to Mrs O’Rourke, Kathy, Mike, and Kevin. Lots of great memories from the old neighborhood, especially when Mr O’Rourke gave me the nickname of Toozy! Thoughts and prayers go out to all of you. God Bless.

  • Please accept my sincere condolences to the O’Rourke family. I had Mr. O’Rourke for Government class in 1965, and he was my favorite teacher at Harding. I found him witty, warm and challenging, and I am sorry to learn of his passing.

  • all my sympathy. I was his student during the Nixon/Kennedy election. He ignited a life-long passionate interest in history and political science. He was so kind and soo inspirational and creative. I’ll never forget him. Would that all children could experience the benefits of having Paul O’Rourke as a mentor and teacher. he ran a good race. May he rest well.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. My parents, Mary Jo and Jim Benson enjoyed the many years of friendship that they shared with Paul and Norma. I will keep all of you close in my thoughts and prayers.

  • God bless you all. Provide comfort in the days ahead. I did not know Mr O’Rourke but I know his daughter Kathy.

  • Very sorry for your loss he was a great man. I always enjoyed talking with him when he would call me for plumbing work.

  • We are so sorry to hear about Paul and our hearts go out to you both. It is very difficult to watch as ones parents get old and then pass with the only hope is that when they do, they are not suffering. It sounds like Paul left quietly.
    I’ve always remembered seeing Paul when I visited Mike at his home growing up. He was always enjoyable to talk to even with that high school ‘teacher’ mystique.
    I know how difficult this must be for you Mike and for Kathy and Kevin and for Norma as well. Please pass on our condolences to them as well and know that you will be in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

    Dan Hrehov

    • Dan, thank you for sharing your memories. We enjoy reading these stories. Thanks again for your thoughtfulness.

  • “It’s a beautiful day in Marion, Ohio! Any questions, comments, or observations?”
    That was how Mr. O’Rourke always greeted his students at the beginning of each class when he was my government teacher at Harding High School in 1976-77. We would then launch into a class discussion of current event, at that time dominated by the Carter-Ford presidential election. That year, he urged me to run for “Mayor” in our school mock election. Such great memories of Mr. O’Rourke! Years later, when I became a teacher at Harding, I would often tell my own students about his unique way of starting every class. My deepest condolences to the O’Rourke family.

    • We really enjoy reading about the memories Dad’s former students write about. We told Dad that we would be hearing great stories about his teaching. thank you for your thoughtfulness.

  • I vividly remember Mr. O’Rourke’s government classes. We didn’t sit in rows, but in a horseshoe shape so we all could look at each other and interact while discussing current events. Mr. O’Rourke closed off the horseshoe at one end as he led and moderated our discussions. Throwing out what seemed to be casual comments, but really teaching us to think critically, examine our closely held beliefs. Teaching us about how our government works – not dry teaching but stimulating and innovative.

    I remember the bulletin board filled with Time Magazine covers posted on angles, upside down – all except one, the cover with Barbara Streisand’s photo.

    I no longer live in Marion, and haven’t seen Mr. O’Rourke for well over 45 years; but his observations and gems of wisdom frequently pop into my thoughts as I read the newspaper or listen to newscasts. Sometimes I share them when having conversations with friends and family.

    I agree with and echo Dennis Hacker’s observations – Mr. O’Rourke would be the best moderator of the presidential debates and I’m sure could keep the responses civil with his piercing look that let you know he wanted an intelligent response. He was always a gentleman. My sympathy to the O’Rourke family in their loss.

    Member of the class of 1965.

    • Thank you for remembering my dad. Stories from his former students are very heart warming

  • To family of Paul O’Rourke: he was a great teacher at Harding I had him in the class of 66. He will be miss by all. Your family our in Prayers. We know that he is in a better place. Amen.

  • This morning, as in other times of decision making in our country, I have reflected on words of my 1964 American Government teacher. In particular Mr O’Rourke’s definition of a leader has been one that I have shared with my children and grandchildren and has guided me in decisions such as we are facing in these times: A POLITICIAN says what is popular, a DIPLOMAT says what is safe; A LEADER says what is true. It was an honor to have had a teacher who left his students such a legacy.
    Our condolences to his family and friends who feel even deeper loss. May God keep you on His peace.
    Mary (Burns) McGrady

    • It’s so great hearing from Dad’s former students & how much they loved him. Thank you for your kind words

  • Paul was one of my very favorite teachers and mentors. I always tried to live up to his motto of “let’s do a quality job”. He certainly did that throughout his life! My condolences to his family and friends. However, my mother will be glad to greet him in heaven so they pick up where they left off on their gov/political conversations.

  • Our deepest condolences. Mr. O’Rourke was my government teacher. He was one of the best teachers that Harding had.
    Phil and Diane Rowlad

  • “Any questions, comments or observations on this beautiful day in Marion, Ohio?” I’ll always remember Mr. O’Rourke beginning class with this question. Loved the conversations and debates that followed. I was lucky to reconnect with him through the his work with St. Vincent DePaul and my work at Mid-Ohio Foodbank and excited that he remembered me. I feel fortunate to have known him. Thought and prayers to his family.

    • We appreciate hearing from Dad’s former students & all his little sayings. Thank you for your kind thoughts & words.

  • Sending the o’rouke family all the love from Lakewood ohio. You’re all in our thoughts and prayers.

    Mary & Brian

  • Very sorry for your loss he was a good man. He brought me out of my shell.
    Paul started class with “Any new business, any old business, any current events.
    Hey Sizemore tell us what you read in Midnite Magazine last night.”
    I would stand and tell the biggest lie I could come up with. He loved it and I got an “A”.


    • Thank you for your kind words. Our family gets a big chuckle out of the stories Dad’s former students tell.

  • Just heard the sad news way down here in Fort Myers Florida. So many memories of you all from the Waples avenue days. My husband John and I live in Powell OH now and our three kids are all over the East with the youngest back home. Where have the years gone? Sometimes I drive through the old neighborhood and wonder what happened to all the people from those days gone by. Sadly it’s through obituaries that I sometimes find out. Please know I am thinking of you all and wishing you comfort as you face life without husband and dad. He was one dynamic guy and know he will be missed. You are all in my prayers. Take care.

    • Arnell, thank you for your thoughts & prayers. Yes, the old neighborhood is not the same but we do have great memories.

  • My first encounter with PMO was during his days as the summer playground coordinator for Marion. During those kinder, gentler days, my sister and I would walk from our house on Walnut St. to Pearl St. school to participate in the many activities planned for neighborhood kids during our summer vacation. The crafts, the games, the tournaments (my sister won the croquet tournament one year and came home with a trophy – WOW!) , and the tennis lessons at HHS were all a part of our wonderful life during the summers as created by your dad/husband!
    When my hisband, Ed, and I moved to Cambridge Ave., the O’Rourkes and the Ericksons kindly visited one spring evening to welcome us to the neighborhood. What a fun visit we had ! Furthermore, Ed, taught for many years with Paul and always spoke fondly of Paul’s creativity, energy, and the laughter he generated with his stories in the Men’s Lounge! The special memories are many as our lives crisscrossed over the years!

    We send our deepest sympathy and prayers for comfort and peace as we gratefully remember the lasting impact PMO had on so many people during his earthly life. What a legacy to leave behind!

    Vicki & Ed Bell

    • Thank you for sharing your fond memories about my Dad. They mean the world to us now. Yes, Dad has quite the legacy!

  • We are never prepared for the loss of our love ones. Please accept my condolences.
    Jesus opened the way for mankind to be released from death by means of the
    Resurrection. John 5:2829 Earthly Resurrection

  • to Paul O’Rourke’s family and friends….or as he signed the absence form every day….PMOR with a huge scrawl!

    The volume of these listed plaudits about “PMOR” speak volumes about how he reached across classes, decades even to provide enthusiasm, wit, and INTELLIGENCE to every class and subject. I join each person’s comments about the quality of his classroom energy and debate style education. I always felt that Paul was very special and very tender under that veneer of Irish energetic braggadocio, of which he was proud. In fact, he had just entered the retirement home just as our Class of 63 was celebrating our (ahem!) big one celebration. Paul’s message to the class…”Don’t worry, I am not nearly as arrogant as I used to be.” Well, damn, sorry to hear that…. there goes the old neighborhood for sure.

    While we all have the same deep feelings for Paul and what we learned it was equally important as to HOW WE LEARNED IT!!! His style was to make one think, and then respond to what one felt. I left Marion decades ago but still think of O’Rourke often and his unique ways of bringing people together and making education, especially government and current affairs. both vitally interesting and participatory. Lots of my business presentation style here in Cincinnati harkens straight back to PMOR. While much relevant has already been said, I would just add three more attributes which Paul had which endeared him to so many, many of us…..wit, complete orneriness, and blunt candor. Thirty years after graduation, at a reunion party where we got reconnected, I had mentioned that our entire class had a very strong aversion to a certain principal of that day, who will go without actual name here, other than his routine tag line…”This is the worst class in the history of Harding High School!” O’Rourke’s response, “Well, Good Lord Hinklin, think about it. You only had to deal with this putz every so often and then usually in the hallway and not as a matter of a job. The faculty had to deal with this guy every single day for years on end. You don’t really expect that we felt any differently than your class did, now do you? DO YOU?” That said it all. I certainly have been a different and more involved (and ornery and candid) person, in good part due to the endearing nature of my favorite teacher ever, Paul M O’Rourke. He may not actually part the clouds from on high, but he will most certainly have some ongoing political discussions going on up there, probably as we speak and smile at Paul’s memory. Well done, my mentor. Well done. Bob Hinklin

    • Thank you for your interesting story and humor. Yes, I am sure there is some kind of political discussion up there in heaven & Dad right there in the thick of things. Also, he really enjoyed attending Harding High School Class reunions.

  • Sorry for your loss. Thinking of you all. Sympathies to Claire and Mike . You are in my thoughts and prayers. See you this summer.
    Friend Jeannine Paquin

  • I am very sorry for your loss. Mr. O’Rourke was a true rarity of an educator in so many areas. He loved young people and demonstrated it many times over with such activities that he spearheaded like Swinger. I had him for American Government and will always remember him for his caring, compassionate, and friendly demeanor.

  • As a staff member at Harding H.S. in the 1970’s, it was a great experience to be part of a team of gifted educators. Paul definitely had so many personal and professional talents that we all respected and learned from. He was an individual that made everyone’s life a bit brighter. He liked kids and kids liked him. This is certainly one of the keys to being a highly effective educator and he truly was that. I’ve felt privileged to have known Paul all these years. His life touched so many people