Dennis O’Meara was the perfect, “small town kind of guy,” said one staff member. He was the oldest participant at ProAct in Shakopee, and tallied nearly 31 years with the group.
O’Meara, of Shakopee, passed away on August 18 at the age of 82.
Staff member knew for 30 years
Direct service professional Tom Fix was shocked by the news, and said O’Meara had just returned to ProAct at the end of July.
“He was a very caring man, almost like a news reporter,” said Fix. “If he had a secret, he would love to come up and tell you about it, to see what you would do, and with a funny laugh.”
Fix spent three decades working with O’Meara, who sometimes prepped and packaged rubber gaskets. The older gentleman would often ask people about their families and show pictures of his own. And, his connection with Fix goes even deeper.
The DSP’s brother-in-law, Mike Blaha, also had a disability and lived with O’Meara in a Shakopee apartment. Blaha passed away earlier this summer. When O’Meara returned to ProAct in July, they reminisced about Mike and said how sorry they were for the news.
“Little did I know we’d be talking about Dennis in this way, it’s so sad.”
He was born in Chicago and had parents who wanted him to reach his full potential, according to his obituary. They were persistent in their advocacy and when O’Meara was younger, he lived independently and rode the bus to his job at a toy factory.
ProAct gave work options
While most of O’Meara’s recent work was at the Shakopee facility, there was also a cleanup crew at Murphy’s Landing where he helped out. One day, he found a $5 bill on the job, and the rest of the crew were jealous. “Boy did the crew work hard after that,” said Fix.
O’Meara enjoyed being around people, the DSP said. He was very interested in others’ lives and was respectful. “ProAct gave him a purpose and a place to go, an outlet. It helped him along in his life for quite a few years. That’s a good feeling.”
He frequently wore shirts with Irish themes and celebrated Irish holidays. The family said he was proud of that heritage and St. Patrick’s Day was always special for him.
O’Meara is survived by a sister and brother, an aunt, nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews.