Maplewood Obituaries South Orange

Tara J. O’Leary — Beloved Wife, Mother, Friend, World Traveler & Artist

 From The Jacob A. Holle and Preston Funeral Homes:

Tara O’Leary, an artist who resided in Maplewood, NJ with her husband Ernie Osle and son Aidan, passed away at home surrounded by family and friends on Thursday, October 24, 2019.

A native of New Jersey, Tara grew up in Maywood and later lived in South Orange, before moving to Maplewood in 2013. From an early age, Tara had a talent for and love of art, studying first at Hackensack High School and later at the School of Design in New York City.

Tara traveled widely as an artist, painting and leading classes in Ireland and Italy, among other places. She also displayed her work at her studio in Maplewood Village and in Cape May, where she and her family had a home, and in galleries throughout the country. Her landscape paintings, for which she won many juried prizes, and which appeared in the New York Times and other publications, are also in many institutional and private collections, including the homes of friends throughout the South Orange/Maplewood community.  As she confronted her cancer over the last four years, Tara explored her illness through her art, creating a series of paintings that captured the emotional intensity of the experience.

Among her favorite memories of this last summer, which she included in a note shared with friends, was her gratitude for “skies full of color – pinks, purples, and blue greys.”

By Tara O’Leary

Tara cherished her friends, much as she did the sunsets, beaches and forests that filled her paintings. She loved introducing friends from one part of her life to another, bringing them together at her home, on trips and more recently to Cape May. She was the first to assist a girlfriend in need of special makeup up or a question regarding colors that most suited her.

In addition to her painting, Tara had studied karate, and traveled to Hong Kong for competitions. She loved fashion, compiling clothing and jewelry that reflected her eclectic style.  Her natural poise and beauty could transform an old t-shirt into high fashion, and a simple necklace into a desired charm.

Mostly, Tara cherished her home and family, creating a space that combined her love of color and art, with the warmth of summer nights relaxing on her front porch. She and Ernie were blessed with their son Aidan upon whose birth Tara decided to dedicate her time to being a full-time mom and devoting more time to her art.

Aidan has provided them with unparalleled joy and love. Tara relished watching him grow into a young man, following his interest in music and martial arts, and the deep, life-long friendships he has created with Chance and Joe whom she loved dearly. Tara’s sister Suellen was her second mother, and dearest friend. They talked every day and relied on each other for any need. Suellen’s daughters – Jessica and Siobhan – were her joy too and she watched them with pride and admiration mature into smart, strong women. Suellen’s husband Archie knew and loved Tara since she was 5-years-old, celebrating her many accomplishments over the years as any doting brother would. Tara was predeceased by her parents, Edward and Joan O’Leary, as well as her brother Kevin. Her sister, Mary Beth, and her two children, Michael and Marissa, will also feel her loss.

A celebration of Tara’s life will be held on Tuesday, October 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Preston Funeral Home, 153 South Orange Ave, South Orange. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to Metavivor ( or to The Creative Center ( As Tara’s world was filled with colors, we’d love to honor that by requesting that friends and family wear joyful colors to the celebration of her life.

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