Cover photo for James Henry O'Brien's Obituary
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1930 James 2024

James Henry O'Brien

January 13, 1930 — May 1, 2024


James H. O’Brien, aged 94, passed away on May 1, 2024, at home with his family by his side. He was born on January 13th, 1930, to Harry and Grace (Thies) O’Brien in Chicago, Illinois.

Jim and his wife, Rita, were married for over 62 years. They had known each other since 1st grade at St. Andrew’s in Chicago. They were married at St. Andrew’s on October 29, 1955, after Jim served 3 years in the Air Force.

They instilled a strong work ethic, diligence, dedication, and responsibility in all of their children. There are many memories of family projects, building, painting, rock picking, and planting trees. Jim’s favorite project was the ‘farm’ in Watertown, attending to his pigs and Hereford cows. He loved driving the tractors and his Willys Jeep. Jim loved to go to auctions and couldn’t pass up any deal. He and Rita enjoyed 30 years overlooking the Crawfish River and “watching the world go by.” We will never forget his many expressions, “I’m the Midwest distributor” of whatever you needed. Having been a child of the Depression he knew what it meant when, “I never had two nickels to rub together”. Or the most memorable, “I wonder what the poor people are doing today,” referring to our family enjoying that particular moment together. He never liked to sit still for too long and was never afraid to start a new adventure with Rita by his side. They were fortunate to travel the U.S. and parts of Europe. Jim was Rita’s caregiver for many years dealing with her MS until her death in 2018.

He is survived by his 6 children: Steve (Bonnie), Matt (Sarah Greenlaw), Sarah (David) Lundey, Rebecca (Roland) Wilson, Sharon (Andrew) Schaefer, Jessica (David) Wentworth; 10 grandchildren: Jake O’Brien, Aaron O’Brien, Kyle (Janeen) Lundey, Tyler Lundey, Carly Wilson, Erin Wilson, Rachel (Matt) Roberts, Andrew Schaefer, Clayton Wentworth, and Julia Wentworth; and 3 great-grandchildren: Mayson Lundey, Thomas Roberts, and Henry Roberts. Bonus family members: Dustin Fleet, Wyndham Greenlaw, and Wyeth Greenlaw. He is also survived by brothers-in-law, Donald Bauer and Dermot Fleming, and many nieces and nephews.

His wife, Rita M. (Steinbrecher) O’Brien, preceded him in death, as did his parents and 3 brothers: Rev. Charles, Robert, and William, and twin sisters, Joan Bauer and Jean Fleming.

Private services will be held later this year in McHenry, Illinois.

The family would like to thank the Madison VA Hospital & Clinics (especially Rochelle Carlson) and Agrace Hospice for their compassionate care.

Memorials may be made to the International Crane Foundation or the Agrace Foundation.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Henry O'Brien, please visit our flower store.
In memory of James Henry O'Brien, please consider making a donation to one of the following charities:


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