The life of beloved philanthropist, volunteer and retired Lee County government professional Bernard Patrick O’Rourke will be celebrated on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 4:30 p.m. at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers.
Affectionately referred to as “B. Pat,” O’Rourke passed away Oct. 15 at the age of 81 following a courageous battle with cancer.
A long-time Cape Coral resident, O’Rourke served for 20 years as a business development specialist responsible for business retention and outreach for the Lee County Economic Development Office. He retired in 2016.
Prior to and following his retirement, O’Rourke gave back to the community in a variety of ways, including as a volunteer employee campaign co-chair for United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties; as a volunteer and donor for Pace Center for Girls, Lee; as a supporter of Valerie’s House and Gulf Coast Humane Society; and as a Rotarian who lived the “4 Way Test.” O’Rourke was honored as an “Honorary Deputy” by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and served as a volunteer with their Civilian Support Unit (CSU) working with a variety of outreach programs including the Sheriff’s Youth Activities League and Teen Driver Challenge and the Animal Cruelty Task Force. O’Rourke enjoyed photography and could often be found behind the camera taking photos at local charitable and community events. He often shared his photos with news media and on social media to help nonprofits raise awareness.
“B. Pat shined a light on so many important causes and will always be remembered for his generous heart for showing kindness, his passion for serving others, and his unconditional love for our community,” said Hannah Pelle, a long-time friend and chief operating officer of United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades. “He was dedicated, kind, and compassionate. He loved his friends, his community, and family. While we miss him tremendously, we know the legacy of kindness he has left behind will last far into the future.”
O’Rourke was born in August 1942 in Falls Church, Virginia. He was the first of three sons of Helen and Bernard O’Rourke, who both worked at the Pentagon for the U.S. Army. He grew up in Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., and was inspired by his mother’s passion for fundraising.
Following his graduation from Morehead State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1966, O’Rourke was a reporter and photographer for the Indianapolis-Star News, before moving into fundraising as development director at the Indiana Heart Association. After relocating back to the D.C. area, he served in development roles for a variety of organizations including director of development for Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia; and assistant director of development at Georgetown University. During his tenure at Georgetown University, the movie “The Exorcist” was filmed on the Georgetown campus, and O’Rourke was chosen to be a priest in one of the scenes of the film. While in D.C., he was a volunteer on the press staff for the Washington Redskins when they made their first Super Bowl appearance in 1972. He was gifted a Super Bowl VII ring that he wore proudly for many years.
Prior to moving to Florida and taking the role at Lee County government, O’Rourke was a membership director for the Greater Washington Board of Trade in Washington, D.C. for nine years.
O’Rourke is survived by his younger brothers Michael (Lori) O’Rourke and Tom (Ana) O’Rourke, as well as a niece, Kelis (Jason) Patel.
The community is invited to attend the celebration of life and a reception will follow. For planning purposes, RSPVs are kindly requested by Nov. 10 at horizoncouncilfoundation.com/BPat.