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Mike O’Hara, Who Led RCA’s DirecTV Launch, Dies At 46

Michael D. O’Hara, 46, who served 24 years with Thomson and RCA and led the successful launch of the RCA DirecTV Digital Satellite System in 1994, has died after a brief bout with cancer.

In a prepared statement, Al Arras, senior executive VP of Thomson, said, “Mike will always be known for his incredible energy and the joy with which he lived his life. In addition to leading Thomson’s consumer businesses for many years, he was a man of very strong faith and helped dozens of people and causes throughout central Indiana. We have a lost a powerful and loving colleague, and a rare man who could assemble the right team to tackle nearly any task.”

O’Hara left Thomson last year to form Summus Ventures, a consulting firm based here whose clients included EchoStar.

Industry veteran Joe Clayton, a longtime friend and colleague of O’Hara told TWICE, “I’ve known Mike for 20 years. He is the consummate professional. He led the DirecTV product and marketing introduction that set the standard for all consumer electronics products. He was equally adept at working in the U.S., Europe or Asia. He was an expert in audio communication. And a little-known fact is he was a strong financial man. One of his first jobs was in credit management at General Electric. He was an all-around business professional. It will be hard to match his level of intensity, creativity and dedication. He was a man with no equals and someone I will surely miss.”

Although best known for leading the launch of high-power direct-to-home mini-dish satellite systems under the RCA brand in the 1990s, the New Jersey native started his career in the consumer electronics industry with General Electric’s audio business in 1987.

In January 2000, O’Hara was named worldwide sales and marketing executive VP for Thomson’s TV, A/V, accessories and communications businesses, a $3 billion enterprise with 10,000 employees.

O’ Hara is survived by his wife Diane and three children.

Memorial contributions may be made in O’Hara’s honor to St. Theodore Guerin High School, 15300 North Gray Road, Noblesville, Ind., 46062 (please indicate Michael O’Hara on the memo line). — Additional reporting by Amy Gilroy and Steve Smith