Joseph A.H. O’Dowd was born in January 1919 on a small farm in Sainte Brigitte des Saults, Quebec Provence. He was the last of eleven children born to Amanda and Thomas O’Dowd. “Harvey”, as he was called by his family, lived there for most of his first seven years before moving to the United States. The family settled in Manchester, NH, where he lived until WW2 started, and he joined the Navy. After a brief stint serving on a reconfigured yacht that cruised the Atlantic from Rhode Island to New York looking for German submarines, he served in the Mediterranean on a wooden mine sweeper, clearing harbors of mines so the larger ships could move in. He was present at the battle of Anzio and the Invasion of Southern France. He never forgot the places he saw.
Toward the end of the war, while his ship was on leave in Camden, NJ, he met Mary Hartman, the love of his life. Together they had five children, William Thomas O’Dowd, Sarah (Sally) O’Dowd Saari, Eileen O’Dowd Clancy, Cynthia O’Dowd Piano, and James Gerard O’Dowd. He also had seven grandchildren, Allison Kolta, Julianne Clancy, Christopher and Katherine (Katie) Piano, and Matthew, Daniel, and Rebecca O’Dowd, and three great grandchildren, Joseph, his namesake, Eleanor, and Maxine. He was loved by all his children’s and grandchildren’s spouses: George Zilligen, Christopher Saari, John Clancy, Thomas Piano,Jacqueline O’Dowd, Kristopher Kolta, Sean vonLembke, Nicole Astalos, and Jean-Luc Coletta.
During his time in the Navy, Joe trained as an electrician. At the end of the war, he developed that skill into a career in television. Mary and Joe spent their early married years in NH where all of their children were born. Joe, with his partner Charlie, opened their own business, NH Radio and Sound Service. Joe then moved on to work at the Manchester TV station WMUR. When their family grew to five children, it was time for him to expand his career, working first at RCA in Camden and later moving on to NYC. During his time at RCA Joe travelled to many places, including Moscow, USSR, where he filmed the famous Kitchen Debate between then Vice President Richard Nixon and Premier Nikita Khruschev, as well as Peru, Ecuador, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, and Canada, to bring the ‘new inventions’ color television and video tape around the world. He then moved to Emerson, NJ, and took a job with the original Sports Network. He travelled throughout the U.S. to bring all sorts of sports to network television, from rodeo to his personal favorite, golf, and everything in between. He moved on to become a video editor on a number of big shows, including Sesame Street and the Merv Griffin Show, and edited many commercials, including political ones. When he retired, he kept just as busy, caring for two of his grandchildren full time and taking up the golf he loved. He spent many years caring for Mary as she descended into Alzheimer’s disease.
Largely self-educated, he taught himself calculus, read all the books he could find, from fiction to philosophy, and never forgot a thing he read. Well into his senior years he would say, “Oh, I read that when I was about 14; that’s the one where…” He kept up with technology, using his cell phone, reading on his Kindle, and Skyping on his iPad with his family. He was a wonderful gardener, baker, and woodworker, and was always busy doing something with his hands. Needless to say, he could always fix the TV, and practically anything else that was broken. He loved birds and wildlife, and appreciated the beautiful setting at Christian Health Care Center where he lived independently for almost two decades. He enjoyed not only the beautiful setting at CHCC, but also their constant building activity. He was amazed by their various building projects and liked to joke that he was supervising them. He rarely missed a day in his entire life without a long walk, whether it was walking to work or enjoying nature at Dunkerhook Park or the Spirit Path at Christian Healthcare. For his whole life, he kept up with sports, and the news, and took an interest in everything going on in the world. His favorite thing was spending time with his family. He lived a simple, loving life and became known as Pop Pop to everyone who met him.
Independent, living on his own past his 100th birthday, he amazed us all. Everyone who knew him, loved him. He will be remembered by everyone whose life he touched as gentle, caring, and kind.