Obituary - Donald Robert O’Fee: Ocean Ridge

Obituary: Donald Robert O’Fee

By Ron Hayes OCEAN RIDGE — On Feb. 27, 1945, a B-24 bomber exploded during a bombing run over Leipzig, Germany. Nose gunner/bombardier Don O’Fee, who normally didn’t wear a parachute, was wearing one that day. He landed in a field and was dragged until the chute was stopped by a large pile of cow manure. He was 19 that day, and would regale family and friends with the story for the rest of his 84 years. An Ocean Ridge resident since 2002, Donald Robert O’Fee died Dec. 8 after battling cancer for a year. “He was very lighthearted and always had a smile, always a joke,” recalled his son, Donald Jr., at whose home a memorial celebration was held Dec. 20. “He read two or three books a week and was a history buff who could talk to you about the American Revolution or the Civil War. He was a very intelligent guy.” Taken prisoner by the Germans, Mr. O’Fee weighed 90 pounds when he arrived at an Army Air Corps convalescent hospital in Plattsburg, N.Y., after the war. During a visit to the hospital, the famed World War II ace and founder of Eastern Airlines, Eddie Rickenbacker, told Mr. O’Fee to get in touch when he was released. With Rickenbacker’s help, he became the airline’s liaison and goodwill ambassador at its Newark terminal, and later handled airline and hotel accounts for a Madison Avenue marketing firm. In 1972, the family moved to Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Mr. O’Fee and his wife, Jean, operated Harbour Lights Book & Gifts, The Bookmark, The Bookmark Volume II and Jean O’Fee’s Good Health for more than 25 years. After his wife’s death in 2000, Mr. O’Fee moved to Ocean Ridge to be near his son. In recent years, he had worked as a concierge at the Delray Beach Marriott hotel. “You never realize who your Dad was until you get older,” his son said. In addition to Donald Jr., he is survived by another son, Douglas W. O’Fee; two daughters, Nancy Dunbar and Bonnie Moody; seven grandchildren; a brother, and three nephews. A military burial will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on March 19, during the cherry blossom festival. Donations in Mr. O’Fee’s memory may be made to the Vitas Foundation, 1901 S. Congress Ave., Boynton Beach, FL 33426.
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