James E. O’Brien
Cemetery Record Information
Full Name: James E. O'Brien
Birth: November 5, 1923
Death: December 19, 2007
Veteran: PVT US Army, World War II, Purple Heart
The Zephyr Wind is Blowing
Mary Marcella Flannery O'Brien (1918 - 2009)
James E. O'Brien was born Nov. 5, 1923, in Fond Du Lac, Wis., to Charles and Loretta O'Brien. He passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2007, at the Syverson Lutheran Home in Eau Claire.
Jim attended Fond Du Lac schools and was a proud graduate of Fond Du Lac High School in 1941. He joined the Army after graduation and served in the infantry in the European theater during World War II. Jim was wounded on Dec. 16, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, was awarded a Purple Heart and received his honorable discharge.
In 1947, while attending Marquette University in Milwaukee, Jim met and married Mary Marcella Flannery. He worked at various jobs during the next few years, including sorting mail at the post office and driving a taxi cab while attending college. Jim earned his bachelor's degree from Marquette in 1959. He served as an efficiency expert at Globe Union and as a safety expert at Cornell Paper Company. Cornell Paper received national recognition for consecutive days without a serious accident during his tenure. He then pursued his true passion, health, by becoming a registered sanitarian for the city of Milwaukee Health Department and serving the city in that capacity for over 20 years, inspecting everything from restaurants to gas pumps and gauges. Jim retired from his position in 1986.
A life-long and practicing Catholic, Jim was also an active and longtime member of the Order of the Masons in Milwaukee. His other interests included outdoor sports such as skiing, hiking, travel and golf and voracious reading and learning until the very end. He was relentless in his pursuit of peace, justice, ethics and the truth. He enjoyed music and activities such as creating and producing colorful lapel buttons with his own button-making machine. Jim was also an avid collector of the state quarters, purchasing uncirculated quarters from the U.S. Mint each time a state quarter was issued, and saving them in quarter display boards for each family member and many friends and their children. Quarters were accompanied by his tutorial of the state being honored. In addition, Jim loved to host family parties on holidays, planning the menu and preparing the food with love and great gusto. He participated as a Boy Scout volunteer, a choir member at various churches and traveled to Rome and Ireland with church groups. Representing the O'Brien clan at the head of the table at Bunratty Castle and a humorous exchange with Pope John Paul at the Vatican are two of his fondest memories.
In late January of 2007, Jim moved to Eau Claire and became a resident of Syverson Lutheran Home. He had many happy months there and engaged the staff and residents in button making and quarter collecting. In July of 2007, at Jim's urging, he, along with family members, friends and nursing home staff, planned and hosted his Living Irish Wake at the Syverson Home. The theme was peace and reconciliation, as this was of primary importance to Jim. A smashing success, the event opened with an American Legion color guard and bugler who, at Jim's request, played taps to begin the program and slid into "The St. Louis Blues." Following were bountiful food and drink, music by Lee Anna Rasar of the UW-Eau Claire music therapy department, harp by Solare Quinn, ragtime by piano player Jim Radloff and a sing-along led by Jo Rudrud.
The wonderful staff of Syverson provided Jim with a loving and nurturing family of caretakers who graced Jim and family with superb care, friendliness, humor and warmth. Words are inadequate to convey the family's gratitude to the Syverson staff, chaplaincy, volunteers, music therapy students and instructors and St. Joseph's Hospice for gracing the family with such a rich, healing and spiritually rewarding end of life experience. Jim's last year of life was quite possibly his best!
Jim was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Leonard and Fr. Claude; sisters, Jean and Eunice; and his daughter, Maureen (O'Brien) Weaver.
Surviving Jim are his two sons, Damian J. and Christopher P. O'Brien of Eau Claire; and his grandson, Terry Weaver of Altoona.
A memorial service for Jim will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007, at the Meta Trebus Memorial Chapel of Syverson Lutheran Home, 816 Porter Avenue, Eau Claire, with Pastor Debra Boynton presiding. Friends may call at the chapel one hour prior to services.
A memorial service will be held for Jim in Milwaukee at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Syverson home c/o Randy Rennock on behalf of James O'Brien, 816 Porter Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54701, or to Eau Claire Veterans for Peace, c/o Gaylord Oppegard, 4997 Highway F, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729.
Fuller-Speckien-Hulke Funeral Home, 3209 Rudolph Road, Eau Claire, is assisting the family with the arrangements.
Friends and family may offer condolences online at www. fullerspeckien.com.
St. John’s Cemetery – Byron, WI