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Lawyer, Capitol Hill Counsel

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

John P. O'Hara, 79, a former president of the Legal Services Corp. who earlier had been chief counsel to an investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, died April 16 at Sibley Memorial Hospital of sepsis. He lived in Alexandria.

Mr. O'Hara worked on Capitol Hill for 24 years, investigating highway and aviation safety as the counsel to the Public Works and Transportation's subcommittee on investigations and oversight.

He left Capitol Hill in 1986, and after a few years as director of corporate security for the old Flying Tiger Line, a cargo airline based in Los Angeles, Mr. O'Hara returned to the Washington area in 1991. President George H.W. Bush appointed him president of the Legal Services Corp., which funnels federal aid to legal organizations assisting the poor. He held the position until his retirement in 1994.

He was born John Patrick O'Hara in New York, graduated from St. John's University in New York and served in the Marine Corps in South Korea during the Korean War. After his discharge, he became an FBI agent, based in the Charlotte and Baltimore field offices while attending law school. He received a law degree in 1960 from the University of Baltimore.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Mary Ann Leavey O'Hara of Alexandria; three daughters, Ann O'Hara Carroll of Alexandria, Kathleen O'Hara Geary of Arlington County and Navy Capt. Maureen O'Hara Padden of Bethesda; a sister, Nancy Murphy of Burke; a brother, Vincent J. O'Hara of Bellerose, N.Y.; and six grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan

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