Vail Daily obituary: Rev. John J. O’Hearne, M.D., Feb. 5, 1922, to May 15, 2017 |

Vail Daily obituary: Rev. John J. O’Hearne, M.D., Feb. 5, 1922, to May 15, 2017

Rev. John J. O’Hearne, M.D.
Special to the Daily |

Rev. John J. O’Hearne, M.D., was born on Feb. 5, 1922 and died at 95. His life was marked by a series of intellectual achievements. His undergraduate degree is from Southwestern College (now Rhodes), with a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee in 1945 and a master’s in psychiatry from the University of Colorado. He was chief of psychology at Fort Benning, Georgia and was discharged in 1946 from the U.S. Army as a captain.

Dr. O’Hearne started his practice in Kansas City as the director of the Psychiatric Receiving Center and was a leader in racial integration there in the early 1950s. He trained with Eric Berne and Fritz Perls, so that he could pioneer the use of group therapy. He was past president of American Group Psychotherapy and on the Board of Directors of the International Transactional Analysis Association.

Dr. O’Hearne was a Life Fellow in the American Psychiatrist Association, the American Orthopsychiatry Association and American Group Psychotherapy Association. He was in Who’s Who in the United States for 25 years and Who’s Who in the World.

He dropped his in-patient practice in order to help people who were more capable of rapid and dramatic transformation of their emotional lives. He taught introduction to group psychotherapy throughout the United States and eight other countries (Bermuda, Haiti, Israel, Brazil, Japan, Russia and Kenya). He wrote more than 24 chapters and articles.

Dr. O’Hearne spent six weeks as the Chaplin at the St. Deiniol’s Library (now Gladstone) in Hawarden, Flintshire, United Kingdom. He was inducted into the Society of Ordained Scientists, an international religious group of priest-scientists within the Anglican Communion.

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Dr. O’Hearne was married to Barbara Vanneman O’Hearne for more than 33 years. During this time, they traveled extensively, skiing and enjoying being with family and friends in their home in Kansas City and the Vail Valley. He was very proud of his Irish heritage, had two photography exhibits and participated in two art fairs. He was studying French and German until his health began to fail.

For 25 years, Dr. O’Hearne did psychiatric screenings on candidates for ministerial studies with three denominations. At age 70, he was ordained an Episcopal priest at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City. On several occasions, he helped friends with their dying process and loved being a priest.

He fathered four children with then wife Lillian Platner, M.D.: Patricia Anne Prater (Nick), Marilyn O’Hearne (Nicholson), John Stephen O’Hearne (Nuzhat) and Brian Donal O’Hearne (Deb). He was a grandfather to nine children and had two step-children, Claude F. Myers IV (Bo) and Molly Myers. His parents, John J. O’Hearne and Norma Ford O’Hearne and four sisters preceded him in death.

When he retired from 50 years of practicing psychiatry and 50 years of downhill skiing, he had a painful time for about three years. It was less painful with Barbara’s care and the support of friends and his children. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, P.O. Box 1000, Vail, CO 81658; or Our Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1580, Vail, CO 81658.

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