Dave O’Hara, a local political consultant, died July 28 at his home from a genetic heart condition. He was 30.
O’Hara worked as a finance director for several local political campaigns. The Scranton native and Philadelphia resident was a 2002 graduate of Abington Heights High School and received his bachelor’s in political science from Temple University in 2008.
During college, O’Hara was a member of the Temple College Democrats and served as a finance intern and later constituent-services intern for U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, Jr.
O’Hara was an active member of the Church of St. Gregory, as well as Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club and Philly for Change.
O’Hara left behind his partner, Rolando Del Rosario. According to Ramsey, the two were together for more than three years and were getting ready to move in together.
O’Hara’s cousin, Rick Naughton, remembered a young man who was eager to make the world a better place.
“He was a great guy, very outgoing, social and funny,” Naughton said. “He was certainly passionate about trying to make the world more just, which is why he was so involved in politics.”
Friend Julia Ramsey met O’Hara when they both worked for the election campaign of former state Rep. Babette Joseph in 2008.
Ramsey said O’Hara was adept at bridging gaps.
“He had an outgoing personality, which is one of the things you need if you are going to raise money,” Ramsey said. “He was always talking with all kinds of people and getting them to write checks. He was just an easy person to be around.”
Among his campaign work, O’Hara served as finance director for state Rep. Rick Taylor’s 2008 re-election campaign, the 2009 judicial campaign for the Montgomery County Democratic Committee and Jeff Hornstein’s 2011 City Council campaign. He was deputy finance director for Tom Knox’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign and Manan Trivedi’s 2010 congressional campaign.
He was also the regional field director for Dan McElhatton’s 2009 campaign for Philadelphia District Attorney.
McElhatton said O’Hara’s fervor for politics was impressive.
“He had so much passion for what he did — quietly so, but very passionate,” he said.
“He was just fundamental and a decent, honest, hard-working man who I was proud to have had associated with our campaign and my name.”
Besides politics, O’Hara had one interest that those who know him said he could talk about non-stop.
“He was a really avid pro wrestling fan,” Ramsey said. “He had invited me to watch pro wrestling once. He loved it.”
Ramsey said O’Hara was active in a pro wrestling Facebook group, and when other members heard of his passing, they raised money to donate flowers for his funeral, held last week.
“He even touched the lives of people he hadn’t met,” Ramsey said.
O’Hara was also an avid fan of David Lynch films.
Naughton said O’Hara’s natural energy infused his political work.
“He was so involved in LGBT politics, and to lose someone who is so passionate and energetic is a great loss to the community,” he said. “To be around him was to be with someone who was constantly making jokes or talking about ways people can come together. He was a happy, positive person.”
His sister, Elizabeth, died in 1995 from the same condition. In addition to Del Rosario, O’Hara is survived by his parents, David and Margaret; several aunts, uncles and cousins; and a wide circle of friends.
A funeral was held Aug. 5 at Church of St. Gregory, with interment at Cathedral Cemetery in Scranton.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation, 508 E. South Temple, Suite 202, Salt Lake City, UT 84102.