Published Articles 7/25/11 – 7/30/11; Good-bye to Osh

This week, my dearest teacher, Thomas J. O’Shaughnessy, passed away at 66. I was able to write a news obituary for him, but I feel like it just didn’t do him justice. I will probably write a fuller piece and post it here after his funeral next week.

Osh was my English and Applied Journalism teacher and was also oversaw the school’s newspaper, newsletter and literary magazine – all publications that I had the good fortune of editing.

He was funny (a true sarcastic genius), kind, intelligent, sweet and a man of God. His faith helped him through the past two years as he fought against the colon cancer that eventually took his life.

I feel good that he is with the Lord now and will work harder than ever to be a good, successful writer. He made me the writer I am today and helped me grow immensely. He said I was one of the best writers he knew and encouraged me in a typewritten letter he gave me when I graduated. (He was a typewriter Loyalist.)

He gave me the letter inside a greeting card from the National Gallery of Ireland, which featured this watercolor of Trinity College in Dublin by James Malton.

Trinity College 1796, James Malton

It read:

Dear Summer,

You are one terrific young woman – intelligent, creative, kind and compassionate. You represent the best about our school.

Duke will be good for you. Then again, you will be good for Duke. Write! Write! Write! You have the talent. It is a God-given gift, so spread your creative wings and enjoy.

Do not forget us here at McNair.


Tom O’Shaughnessy.

He was a passionate, caring man but was never really outwardly emotional so I considered this to be basically the equivalent of him sobbing all over the place and saying, “Ahhh, no, don’t go – Imma miss you and your words!”

Also, he signed the card, the letter and my yearbook as “Tom O’Shaughnessy” instead of “Mr. O’Shaughnessy.” He was welcoming me into the world of grown-ups, where I was a friend as well as a former student.

When I need inspiration – especially as a writer – I still pull out the card and the letter and remember how much Osh believed in me. And then I renew my promise to make him proud.

Osh, we love you and we’re going to have Haagen Dazs rum raisin ice cream in your honor.

Tom O'Shaughnessy in his McNair Academic classroom in 2008.

Anyhow, here are some of the latest things I’ve published on Hudson County Now and in The Jersey Journal.

I didn’t get to write all that much this week because I spent half of it training a co-worker how to do the morning blogging for Hudson County Now and the other half training with our Life editor – learning how to format, copy edit, etc. I also attended a couple training seminars on shooting video for stories. Busy week.




About Summer Dawn Hortillosa

Summer Dawn Hortillosa is a journalist specializing in arts and entertainment. Among other things, she is also an award-winning playwright, director, singer-songwriter and actress. Her work has been seen in The Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal and other publications.
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