Joseph F. O'Connor, Draper Laboratory's retired vice president of human resources and administration (1981-1994) and secretary of the Corporation (1994-2005), died June 11 of cancer at the age of 77.
For more than a dozen years, O'Connor was the face of Draper Laboratory in the Cambridge community. O'Connor presented Draper's viewpoint on topics of public interest, such as the Nuclear-free Cambridge Referendum of 1983, and he provided leadership for many civic organizations.
O'Connor was a past president of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and of the Rotary Club of Cambridge, a director of Cambridgeport Savings Bank and its parent company Port Financial, a director for Junior Achievement of Eastern Mass. and a corporator of Mount Auburn Hospital. For his service to the community, O'Connor was recognized by the Cambridge City Council and Mayor Sheila Russell in 1997.
Born June 15, 1929, in Brookline, Mass., O'Connor received an AB from Dartmouth College in 1951 and a completed requirements for master's degree in business administration at Boston University in 1954 and 1955. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1951 to 1953. He joined the MIT Central Personnel Office in 1957.
O'Connor began his association with Draper Laboratory in 1964, when he became the personnel director for its forerunner, the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. Upon the laboratory's divestment from MIT in 1973, O'Connor became executive assistant to the president of Draper Lab. Upon his retirement in 1994, he was elected secretary of the corporation, a position he held through 2005.
O'Connor is survived by his wife, Patricia (Rowley), of Yarmouth Port, Mass.; a son, Michael O'Connor of Denver, Colo.; a daughter, Catherine Hartman of Hingham; and two grandsons.