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Daniel O'Rourke

March 15, 2021

Daniel O’Rourke died on March 15, 2021, at the Chautauqua County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Dunkirk.

Dan was born on Dec. 31, 1931, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He was the son of the late John and Rose (Kielty) O’Rourke. Dan was ordained a Catholic priest in the Franciscan Order in 1959. After he left the Franciscans, he married his wife Marie in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Sept. 18, 1971. He then worked as executive director of the Human Rights Department for the City of Worcester, Massachusetts. His principal functions there were to investigate mediate and arbitrate complaints of discrimination and to educate the public to the presence and effects of prejudice.

In 1974, Dan came to SUNY Fredonia eventually as assistant vice president for human resources. He was responsible for personnel, union relations, affirmative action and payroll. He retired from SUNY Fredonia in 1996.

Dan was extremely active in community affairs. He was former president of the Northern Chautauqua County United Way; treasurer of the Dunkirk-Fredonia Center for Peace and Justice; a frequent volunteer and fundraiser for the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry. Dan was also a Red Cross volunteer.

He was a compassionate human being; in both his writings and personal contact, he tried to help and heal those who crossed his path. He and his late wife Marie O’Rourke were passionate leaders in many different fields for justice and peace.

Dan was a certified healer for the Lily Dale Healing Association and a mediator for the Dispute Resolution Center in Jamestown.

From 2004 to 2016, Dan was a columnist for the Observer in Dunkirk. Three collections of his columns have been published as books: “The Spirit at Your Back” in 2007, “The Living Spirit” in 2011, and “The Very Last Word” in 2015.

Survivors include sons David O’Rourke of Orchard Park, Chris O’Rourke (Stephanie), of Cary, North Carolina and a daughter Shinae O’Rourke of Queens. Three sisters, Maureen Holmes of Dallas, Pa.; Ellen Kennedy, and Sister Therese O’Rourke, IHM, both of Scranton, PA survive him, as do numerous nieces and nephews.

Six grandchildren also survive: Erin O’Rourke, Caitlin O’Rourke, Jill O’Rourke, Grace O’Rourke, Gabby O’Rourke and Lulu Chisholm O’Rourke.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife Marie, his sister Rosanne Byrne, brother John O’Rourke M.D., and his grandson Luca Chisholm O’Rourke.

Dan has donated his body to the University of Buffalo Anatomical Gift Program for scientific research and teaching.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in Dan’s memory to the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, Box 682, Dunkirk, NY 14048.

A Mass will be held at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Dunkirk, on July 24 at 11 a.m. to celebrate his life.

By the Observer

Dan has been a long time member of CORPUS joining in 1976.  Because of his writing skills, many of his articles appeared in CORPUS REPORTS and on E-CORPUS. 


David O'Rourke (Son)
5560 Big Tree Road
Orchard Park, NY 14127