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Sunday, December 17

Throwback Tuesday: Former Daily Bruin staffer welcomes son, remembers newspaper proposal


UCLA alumnus John O'Hara proposed to his then-girlfriend Dena Veth, a former Daily Bruin copy editor, through a letter to the editor in the Daily Bruin Opinion page on March 2, 2011. Last week, the couple welcomed their son, Jackson Muir O'Hara, into the world.
(Daily Bruin archives)

UCLA alumnus John O'Hara proposed to his then-girlfriend Dena Veth, a former Daily Bruin copy editor, through a letter to the editor in the Daily Bruin Opinion page on March 2, 2011. Last week, the couple welcomed their son, Jackson Muir O'Hara, into the world. (Daily Bruin archives)


In an alternate universe, students killing time before St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans on March 2, 2011 would have picked up a copy of that day’s Daily Bruin, turned to the Opinion page and read fascinating editorials that hit directly on the zeitgeist of the time. Opinions may have been offered on such important items as the last flight of the space shuttle discovery, the Libyan uprising or – more esoterically but also fun – the impending first-time opening of the kayak-friendly Los Angeles River Recreation Zones.

Instead, however, they found that their perennially trustworthy source of all things news and entertainment had been hijacked by John O’Hara – a romantically inclined alumnus who strong-armed the paper into letting him run a marriage proposal in its prestigious pages.

On March 17, 2011, while on vacation as a respite from the brutal Chicago winter to which they’d return in a few days, John and Dena Veth – a UCLA alumna who graduated in 2007 – were walking along a beach in Mexico when they “fortuitously” happened upon a copy of the Daily Bruin.

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Jackson Muir O’Hara’s father, John O’Hara, originally proposed to his wife through a letter to the editor published in the Daily Bruin. (Courtesy of John O’Hara)

Earlier that day, John had set the stage for the Platonic Ideal of romance by accidentally hitting Dena in the cheek with an errant frisbee – a la “Meet The Parents” – and aggressively insisting that they blow off a planned get-together with friends and take an impromptu, entirely purposeless walk.

Thankfully, when Dena saw the copy of the Daily Bruin, for which she had been a Copy editor, she thought back to almost eight years prior and to many “that times” in between: that time freshman year when Dodd 147 and chili-cheese fries from Puzzles Bakery and Cafe were the reliable constants in their budding relationship; that time when they were studying abroad and watched the Yahoo Sports play-by-play of a UCLA-USC football game in a dark computer lab in Africa until the score read “13-9, Final”; that time when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as a keynote graduation speaker, exhorted them to seek value, not success; and all the other times over the next four years that took them to every part of Los Angeles and then beyond, from teaching with Teach For America to a talent agency, from coordinating girls’ education in a group home to coordinating cram sessions in law school, from Hermosa Beach to Huntington Park to Hyde Park to that beach near Cancun, Mexico.

Dena opened the paper, saw the proposal and said yes.

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Jackson Muir O’Hara was born Nov. 16, 2017. (Courtesy of John O’Hara)

Today, checking in on this Throwback Tuesday, John and Dena O’Hara are back in Los Angeles, living in Highland Park. John O’Hara is a litigation counsel at the Endeavor company, and Dena O’Hara is an adjunct professor at Santa Monica College. We’re happy to report that they welcomed their first child Thursday. Jackson Muir O’Hara was born November 16, 2017, ready to take on the world.

We’ve been told each of his little hands was holding up four fingers and his heart was pumping blue and gold.

O’Hara graduated from UCLA in 2007.

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