In 1950, he was drafted into the military and served two years in the Army during the Korean War. After the armistice was signed, O'Connor returned to the States and resumed his music career.
"I went back to the band business until about 1958," he said.
But music wasn't always a stable way to make a living and he wanted to get off the road. By then he had a wife and family.
"I came back to Charleston. I went to West Virginia State and studied accounting."
O'Connor became an accountant but never gave up his horn. While in school, he played in clubs around Charleston. After graduation, he and his wife left for Toledo.
"We only lasted seven years [there]," he said. "Charleston could get a little cold, but I liked to freeze to death in Toledo. It was too cold."
They moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. in 1969. O'Connor found work as an accountant and started a band that still plays every week at the Bilmar Resort in Treasure Island, Fla.
"I've been there for, I guess, 40 years," he said.
O'Connor joined the Southern Fried Jazz Band shortly after it was formed in 2001.
"I knew most of those guys from back when I played in the big bands," he said. "Don [NAME] and I played together with Charlie Spivak in the late 1950s. We just kept in touch. He'd come down this way to play, and I'd go where he was and play with him."
O'Connor said the music he plays is Dixieland jazz, but it's not necessarily what everybody thinks of as Dixieland. "I don't play the old Dixieland gutbucket style," he explained.
Gutbucket jazz refers to an earlier form of jazz that uses a strong beat and rollicking delivery.
"We play the Dixieland jazz style," he added. "I think we're one of the very few left in the country who do that."
He's looking forward to bringing the music back to Charleston.
O'Connor said he visits from time to time and still has a lot of friends in Charleston, but it's been a while since he actually took a look around.
"We're coming in on Saturday," he said. "My daughter is coming with me, and I'm going to have her take me around, go see the old home place and say hello to some of my old friends. I'm hoping to see as many as I can."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.