At 86 years old, Inez O'Connor has more energy than those half her age. Most residents know her as "the walker" who is out at the crack of dawn doing her daily 2 mile walk. She gets her walk in early so that she can do her work out later in the day at Curves.
Upon graduating from Plattsburgh State Teachers' College in 1945, Inez settled in Kings Park. She immediately began working in the high school as a Home Economics teacher.
" I loved working in Kings Park," said O'Connor. " The parents were wonderful. The kids were wonderful." She said it was a different time. "The kids knew if they sassed you and you called home, there would be trouble at the doorstep."
O'Connor was the first woman ever to ask for, and be granted, a maternity leave in the Kings Park school system. Today, she has 6 grown children, 19 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren (with another on the way). Visits to family include trips to Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.
Once a year, O'Connor goes on an international adventure with her younger sister. Some of their favorite trips have been to India, Thailand, Vietnam, Machu Pichu, and Africa. This year's trip will be an Adriatic cruise to Montenegro and Croatia. O'Connor loves experiencing other cultures and often returns home grateful and edified. While visiting Normandy, O'Connor recalls being moved by the soldiers' gravestones, some of which had crucifixes, others Jewish stars. She was touched by the fact that in life they may have fought against each other, in death they were buried beside each other.
When at home, O'Connor can often be found selling raffles for the Smithtown Lionesses yearly drawing. This year organization is purchasing a seeing eye dog. They also donate to local charities for battered women and those affected by diabetes and other dibilitating illnesses. She is also an active member of St. Joseph's Catholic Daughters of America, the Retired Teachers Association and the Kings Park Senior Citizens and volunteers three times a week at the Methodist Church Thrift Shop.
O'Connor loves her hometown of Kings Park. "I find it so very friendly and outgoing. That parade (St. Patrick's Day) was the greatest thing in the world. It was so uniting."
She enjoys seeing former students and the children of former students around town. That and her her philosophy of keeping busy and exercising are what keep her young. Having survived both lung cancer and a stroke, Inez O'Connor does not let a day go by when she doesn't live life to its fullest. She is a Kings Parker you should get to know.