Michael O’Meara, DDS, has been practicing dentistry for over 30 years, located on the ninth floor of Water Tower Place. He’s always continuing his education and striving to know the latest techniques to accommodate his ever-growing patient list.
Dr. O’Meara’s life partner, Margaret O’Connor, is founder of MarCon Communications and represents a diverse range of clients across industry lines. She works with non-profit organizations, cooking personalities, professional athletes and others. She is also a freelance writer and a contributor to several publications.
Both Ms. O’Connor and Dr. O’Meara are two very active people in both their businesses and charity work. I sat down with the two to see how it all comes together…
Michael, how did you go from Ohio to the Magnificent Mile? Well, I’m a homegrown Midwesterner. Born in Ohio, my family moved to Indiana when I was young; then we settled in the Chicago area when I was a teenager. I attended Marquette University up in Milwaukee for undergrad and went to graduate school at Ohio State, studying environmental biology before switching over to the dentistry program. Happy I made the change.
Why dentistry? I’ve always been interested in dental. It began at an early age – my uncle, who was a dentist, was always an inspiration for me. I’ve always enjoyed working with people and was skilled at working with my hands doing intricate work, so dentistry and patient care were a perfect fit for me. I graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in ‘83 and haven’t looked back.
You’re a busy man between your practice and personal life. What do you do for fun when you do get some free time? During college I became interested in stained glass work and began taking classes as a hobby. I’ve actually created several Tiffany-style pieces including a large hanging light I made for a friend and his wife. And of course I’m a die-hard Marquette basketball fan.
And, of course, spending time with Margaret? Of course. Margaret is an amazing woman.
How did you two meet? We first met through a mutual acquaintance and neither was interested in dating the other.
Margaret: A few months later we ran into each other and found out we had some common interests and became good friends. We both liked to bike and sometimes we’d meet to go riding along the lakefront or hang out with some of our mutual friends. I was traveling a lot for work and he was a busy dentist in the city.
Michael: But after a while we clicked. And I’m happy we did because now we share the second greatest love of our life…our dog Molly.
Margaret, what have you been up to? I’ve been keeping busy with the usual. Working on clients’ projects, writing and charity endeavors. I’m currently serving as co-chair of this year’s Chicago Bears Bears Care Gala as well as working on several other charity fundraisers. I have a couple annual reports, which can always be time-consuming this time of the year, but it’s interesting. I love to cook – sometimes I make something pretty complicated and that’s my way of getting out of my own head and away from it all. Also taking walks with our dog, Molly, in the park or to the lake is great down time.
Margaret, you have an interesting background. Tell me about your upbringing. Most people who know me know something about my unique background. The daughter of Australian missionaries, I was born in Ethiopia, Africa, and raised in Ethiopia and Australia. When I was a young teen my parents came to the U.S.
Michael: Margaret says the best way to describe it is, ‘We were accidental immigrants.’ But that’s another story.
Margaret: In my early 20s I did both catalogue and runway modeling, which was of course an amazing experience. After studying marketing at the University of Illinois in Champagne-Urbana, I co-founded two businesses, the first was Élan Finishing & Modeling School with Karen Morrison, Miss USA 1974, and the second, Total Image, a full service salon and health club/spa. Under Élan Productions I began producing large-scale fashion shows for malls throughout Illinois. I finally moved into this beautiful city in 1992 and through MarCon began a collaboration with a New York-based company, which continued up until 2003.
Margaret, what are some of the boards you’ve been involved with? Oh, wow I’m not sure where to begin. I’ve served on numerous boards in Chicago. I began a fundraiser to raise money for adult literacy students and their families and in five years raised over one million dollars. I’ve served on the board of directors of numerous boards including serving as president of Literacy Chicago’s board, president of the board of directors of the Partners of Hospice at Northwestern, vice-chair of the board of DIFFA/Chicago, was a founding member of the board of directors for Common Threads and served on the board at ProLiteracy Worldwide, an international adult literacy organization headquartered in New York.
Michael: She’s also received several awards and recognitions. MarCon received the national award for Best Event Produced for a Nonprofit, awarded by Special Events Magazine and PRIMEMEDIA in 2004. MarCon has also been selected as a national finalist in other categories. She was recognized by TCW Magazine as one of 100 Women Making A Difference. She is a past recipient of Outstanding Women In America, Outstanding Young Women In Illinois and Who’s Who in America. She’s an incredible woman with a huge heart.
Michael, I know you don’t discuss who your clients and you probably have a lot of interesting stories. This goes back a few years, and I first heard about this through the Chicago Bulls. What’s the story about the time the scout from the Houston Rockets was going to be leaving the United Center and flying to China to sign Yao Ming? That is a while ago and you’re right the story is out there so I don’t mind filling you in. I got a call from the Bulls who were playing the Houston Rockets. The scout was in a lot of pain with a tooth issue and was flying to China on a private plane after the game to sign Yao Ming. They asked if I could see him. He met me at my office at Water Tower around 11pm and needed a root canal. We got him fixed up and on his way.
Did you go to a Rockets game after that? No, he offered me front row seats at any upcoming game, but I was only too happy to help and that was enough.
What makes your practice unique? I think my staff makes us unique because I have a dental assistant, hygienists and other staff who love what they do and love patient care. They’re happy people and it comes across. Most have been with me for years and I get compliments on my staff all the time.
Congratulations you two – you’re definitely some Chicago’s powerful partners!