After a life of military and community service, Army Maj. James H. O'Rourke (Retired) of Bedford, passed away on February 20, 2021 at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester after a brief illness.
Jim was born in Brooklyn, NY to Francis O'Rourke and Bertha (Solowie) O'Rourke on September 6, 1936. After graduating from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, Jim attended Officer Candidate School (OCS). He obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY and a Master's Degree from Hofstra University in Uniondale, NY, graduating with honors.
Jim served with the 82nd Airborne Division and as a U.S. Army Ranger with the elite 101st Airborne Division. He served two tours of duty in both Korea and Vietnam and a tour of duty in Saudia Arabia, while learning to speak Mnong and Arabic fluently. Jim also taught Military History at LaSalle Military High School in Brooklyn, NY. As a Protocol Officer at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn NY, he had the distinguished honor of escorting General Omar Bradley on his last trip to New York City. After retiring from the Army in 1978, Jim continued to work as a civilian for the Army's Intelligence Department, as a test psychologist at Ft. Devens, MA. During Jim's long military career, he was awarded many medals and commendations, including a Meritorious Service Medal, two Purple Heart Medals, two Bronze Star Medals, Presidential Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Medal, Armed Forces Honor Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Air Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
While stationed at Ft. Dix (NJ), Jim met and married the love of his life, DeeDee Coombs, a nurse from Trenton. They celebrated 50 years of marriage, before DeeDee passed away in 2011. Jim is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Patrick and Lydia O'Rourke of Bedford; daughters, Tracy O'Rourke of West Palm Beach, FL and Colleen O'Rourke of Nashua and granddaughter, Mairead O'Rourke of Orlando, FL. Jim will also be missed by his many nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, Robert and Ronald O'Rourke, and sister, Sheila O'Rourke Collins.
Jim was a devout Catholic and lived his life to help and serve others. For many years, he helped run a food pantry for his Catholic church. At the age of 85, he was always on the go and especially looked forward to his daily visits to The Red Barn on Elm Street, enjoying the company of his friends ("second family").
SERVICES: A private cemetery committal service was held at St. Joseph Cemetery in Bedford and his large, extended family will celebrate his life at a gathering this upcoming summer.
Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, Manchester is assisting the family with arrangements.