Obituary: John O'Dowd, 1949-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: John O'Dowd, 1949-2022 

Private practice defense attorney was a progressive thinker who supported public services and justice

Published January 24, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

click to enlarge John O'Dowd - COURTESY
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John O’Dowd died suddenly on December 10, 2022. He went for a walk with his beloved wife on a beautiful sunny day and didn’t come back. We are heartbroken at his sudden absence and comforted that he did not suffer or linger. Renamed by his grandson as "Bop," he became "Bop" to all.

A northern transplant with deep southern roots, Bop grew up on the beaches of South Carolina, loved BBQ and his mama and was forever on the quest for a proper glass of unsweetened iced tea. Proud of his military education (The Citadel) and service in the army (Ranger school, 82nd Airborne Division and the JAG core), John was an open and progressive thinker who supported public services and justice. Following his military service, John was a private practice defense attorney, became an author, earned a black belt in karate, and was an advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A lawyer through and through, John loved to argue, debate, rile and question. While he wasn’t aiming to hurt feelings, our Bop wasn’t particularly concerned with causing offense. Outgoing, outrageous and loud, with a quirky sense of humor, Bop wasn’t for the faint of heart but always found his champions. Beneath all the bluster lived a remarkably kind and sensitive soul. This was most apparent with his grandson and granddaughter, whom he shamelessly adored. He gloried in their growth, intelligence and development. In return, they were among Bop’s fiercest advocates and vocal cheerleaders. As an accomplished writer, it was particularly important to him that his grandchildren read avidly, think deeply and write with style and intelligence. Still in the game, Bop wrote a daily haiku, was part of a community writing group and had embarked upon a new novel.

John was a survivor. He endured a brain tumor, two brain surgeries and their aftermath, hearing loss, thyroid cancer and A-fib. Through it all, he was supported and cared for by his wife of 52 years. They loved, fought, raised great kids, traveled the country and the world, created a beautiful home and took care of each other to the end. He loved his wife, his children, their respective spouses and his grandchildren, and he particularly loved it when they were all together. The eldest of five children, John loved all his siblings fiercely, even when it was ugly. Predeceased by his mother, whom he missed every day, and his youngest sister, John is survived and remembered fully, and ultimately fondly, by his wife; his son and daughter and their respective spouses; his grandson and granddaughter; his grand-dog; two sisters; one brother; and an extended network of friends, neighbors, cousins, nieces and nephews.

In conclusion, vote, think, speak your mind, TANSTAAFL, shut the door!, love ya mean it, never underestimate an old man from the Citadel, duct tape, cutoff sweatpants. We sure do miss the crazy old turtle.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in memory of John O’Dowd to the Shrewsbury Community Church (with a memo for the Helping Hand Fund), c/o Treasurer Karen Lorentz, 1300 CCC Rd., Shrewsbury, VT, 05738; or to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Burlington, 16 South Winooski Ave., Burlington, VT, 05401, or visit and click the “Donate” tab.
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