January 26, 2009
Joe and Toni O’Connor’s love story is a study in partnership and
The couple met as students at St. John’s when both participated
in the Executive-In-Residence program at what was then known as the
College of Business Administration. They were part of a study group
and came to know each other as they worked on class projects. A
friendship formed and the pair found they had some things in
common. They were both Queens residents — Toni from South Ozone
Park and Joe from Bayside — both studious and both happy with their
choice in attending the University.
For their first date, they attended a St. John’s basketball game
at Alumni Hall and Joe later proposed to Toni under the arch on the
Queens campus. When they married in 1985, Rev. James J. Dorr, C.M.
'79GEd, a member of the University’s administration, conducted the
It would seem only natural that alma mater would play
such a significant role in their relationship given the history of
the O’Connor family with St. John’s. Seven out of the eight
O’Connor siblings are St. John’s graduates. In addition to Joe
there is Mary ('78CBA), James ('79SVC), Bill ('84C, '87G), Dan
('85SVC), Maureen ('88C, '95G) and Jennifer ('92C, '96G). Maureen
and Jennifer also both met their spouses at the University, Dennis
Martin '88C and Kevin Dennean '92CBA, respectively.
The O’Connor matriarch, Ada Mae, worked in the Registrar’s
Office for more than 20 years and their father James ('67MBA) is
also an alumnus and a former adjunct professor. “We’re the
quintessential St. John’s family,” Joe says.
The University has been good to them, the O’Connors say. Two of
the O’Connor clan attended on baseball scholarships and several
other O’Connor children received academic scholarships. Not only
did they receive a solid education, they acknowledge, but there was
also the focus on Vincentianism which they hold dear. “We found a
community of people in the student body and faculty that really
shared our values,” Joe says. “We couldn’t be more proud of our St.
That pride has spurred them to give back to the institution. Joe
and Toni have served as co-chairs of the Loughlin Society for
consecutive years and Joe gave generously of his time as a member
of the Board of Governors and the Advisory Board for St. John’s
University The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. Last year, Joe
was elected to the St. John’s University Board of Trustees. Toni
has been lauded for her work with several organizations including
the Padre Pio Homeless Shelter, the Ossining Children’s Center, and
the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. In 2002, St. John’s
honored Joe with the Pietas Medal and in 2007 the couple was
presented the Fidelitas Award in recognition of their devotion and
service to the University.
Over the years, their love for St. John’s — and each other — has
continued to flourish. Today, Joe is the managing director for
Security Global Investors and they are the proud parents of Joseph,
Sean, Brianna and Brendan. And they say they will remain ever
steadfast in their loyalty to the University which brought them
together. “We’re very grateful to St. John’s,” Toni says.