James Patrick ‘Jim’ O’Conor, real estate broker and a founder of one of Maryland’s largest home sales firms, dies

James Patrick ‘Jim’ O’Conor, real estate broker and a founder of one of Maryland’s largest home sales firms, dies

James Patrick “Jim” O’Conor, a real estate broker who was a founder of one of Maryland’s largest home sales firms, died of heart failure Dec. 19 at his Lutherville home. He was 94.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Chancery Road, he was the son of Mary Eugenia Byrnes and Herbert R. O’Conor Sr., the governor of Maryland in the 1940s who was later a U.S. senator.

He attended the old Mount Washington Country School for Boys and was a 1947 graduate of Loyola Blakefield in Towson, where he played basketball. He earned a degree at Loyola University Maryland.

Mr. O’Conor started as a Monumental Brick and Supply Co. brick salesman and received his real estate license in 1953. He then joined the W. Burton Guy & Co. firm, where he worked in home sales.

In 1961, he was a co-founding partner of O’Conor, Byrnes & Flynn, later known as O’Conor & Flynn.

In 1984, he was a founder of another real estate firm, O’Conor, Piper & Flynn. Mr. O’Conor worked with Bill Flynn, Jim Piper and John Evans to create the new business.

“Jim was a great friend and business partner. He was one of the icons of the industry,” said John Evans, his business partner. “We put the merger [with other real estate firms] together at the Quality Inn on York Road close to the O’Conor and Flynn office at the Beltway. We discussed how the four of us could align and make something good of it.”

The company grew to 2,300 agents and 53 offices in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The majority of its business was based in Central Maryland.

“Jim was highly respected and a leader. His acumen and business sense were at the top,” Mr. Evans said.

“He was down to earth,” said Kathie Connelly, former executive director of the Maryland Real Estate Commission. “He was detail-oriented and kept a fresh to-do list every day. He was a numbers man and could do them in his head. And Jim was approachable.

James Patrick
James Patrick “Jim” O’Conor was active with numerous organizations including the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, Stella Maris and the ARC Baltimore.

“He always said, ‘You need to do the right thing. It may be hard, but you need to do it,‘” Ms. Connelly said.

His firm became the largest, independently owned real estate company in Maryland before its sale in 1998 to National Realty Trust Inc. a family history said.

“Jim was a pillar in the industry,” said Al Ingraham, chief executive at the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.  “He set a tone and standard in professional business ethics that may have existed before, but he brought it to the forefront.

“When his agents failed to pay their annual dues to the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, he invested in them and brought his checkbook and paid their dues. He then took the dues from their next two commissions,” Mr. Ingraham said.

Mr. O’Conor retired in 2003 as a senior vice president of NRT Mid-Atlantic Inc., a real estate services company.

He sat on the boards of the University of Maryland Medical System, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, Loyola University Maryland and Towson University.

The maternity ward at UMMS/St. Joseph’s Hospital is named after Mr. O’Conor and his late wife, Katherine Elizabeth “Bette” Ellis O’Conor.

He was also active with the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, Stella Maris, the ARC Baltimore, Notre Dame Preparatory School and Signal 13 Foundation, which assists families of police officers killed or wounded in the line of duty.

Survivors include three sons, Sean O’Conor, of Phoenix in Baltimore County, Thomas O’Conor, of Lutherville, and Terrence O’Conor, of Nerja, Spain; three daughters, Kristen Reynolds, of St. Petersburg, Florida, Mary O’Conor, of Towson, and Lauren Berger, of Lutherville; 13 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

His wife of 65 years died in 2015.

His son, James P. O’Conor Jr., died in 2008. Another son, Robert O’Conor, died in 2020.

A Mass was held last Thursday at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson.

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