|It's one life
On December 27, 1950, Tony O’Connor was born on a strange and exotic island in the Atlantic Ocean called New York City. He spent the next 22 years growing up on this island but instinctively knew that his destiny lay elsewhere.
On Feb. 11, 1967, Tony was playing with friends in a freight yard in Brooklyn when his hand hit the high tension wire carrying 11,000 volts. Now this was "Shock & Awe" big time but the only "Awe" was indescribable pain - he remembers lying in the snow looking at his hand still stuck to the wire and thinking this is definitely not good. To make a long story short, he lost his right arm at the shoulder and both his legs below the knees.
He can remember deciding, then and there, that this would not destroy his life. If God would let him live, he swore an oath never to feel sorry for himself but to make the most of what was left. He promised to convince himself - “It was a good thing”.
The doctors told his parents he would spend years in hospitals and rehab. As usual, Tony had his own ideas and returned to his High School just six months after his accident. He immediately refused the elevator pass they wanted him to use. He admits he fell a few times but he always chose the best looking girls to land on.
He grew up with the Vietnam War, The Beatles, the invention of TV and the Civil Rights Movement - a true product of the sixties.
He earned an associate degree from Kingsboro Community College. He bummed around Florida for a couple of months before reporting to Newport Vermont in 1973 as a V.I.S.T.A. volunteer. Tony requested work with handicapped children on the West Coast - he was assigned work with the elderly in New England. He laughs that this was his first learning experience regarding how the Federal Government works. It was a rewarding year. From there he went to St. John’s University in NYC for one and a half years. He joined TKE fraternity and had a ball ! Tony says college would have been perfect if he didn’t have to go to classes, study and take tests.
He owned a trailer in Coventry Vt. and while on a frat trip to Killington Vt., he came back to Newport to sell that trailer. His plans were altered by a cute brunette - and on July 17 1976, he married Gloria Gosselin. They have two boys, two girls and three grandchildren. Tony & Gigi built their own home on Brownington Pond in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. It had been an old camp and they bought it for only $5,000 on the day Elvis died. Tony says today it is worth a wee bit more. He and his wife agree there is no where else they would rather live. He is a Vermonter by choice not birth.
In 1979, he landed a job with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) working in Van Buren, Maine as a border guard. To the best of his knowledge, he was the only triple amputee ever to carry a gun and badge in the history of our country. In 1981, he transferred back to Vermont and, after 28 years of service, he retired from Homeland Security.
Needless to say, Tony's diverse life experiences and unique points of view provide tons of heart warming and hilarious tales. Laughter provides the back drop for an evening that is inspirational and just plain fun !!
Tony’s parents have recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. He has two brothers and three sisters so from a young age he learned about dealing with conflicts. Being a middle child he was the most well adjusted to life.
believe it ?
Tony’s parents have recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
He has two brothers and three sisters who taught everything there is to know about conflict !
Being a middle child, he was obviously the most well adjusted of the Brady bunch !