On January 31, 2012, the best man I have ever personally known left this earth in blessed repose... my father. Joseph Albert O’Brien was born on November 22, 1923 to Joseph Anthony and Thelma (Breymeier) O’Brien in Avoca, Pennsylvania. When Joseph was only four years old his father, a coal miner, died of a broken neck sustained during a friendly game of football. Thelma, unable to care for both Joseph and his younger brother Donald on her own, sent young Joseph to Girard College, an independent boarding school, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for his educational years. On November 11, 1942, a week and a half before his 19th birthday, Joe O’Brien joined the United States Navy in the midst of World War II.
In Detroit in the spring of 1943 at a USO roller skating party, shortly before he was deployed to the war in the Pacific, he met who would prove to be the love of his life, the beautiful, young Betty Jane Rogers. Betty and Joe corresponded by mail almost two years during the war, became engaged by mail, and on September 29, 1945 just a few weeks after returning from war they were married in Detroit at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church. Joseph dedicated 15 years of his life in service to his country as an aircraft mechanic specializing in propeller work. His service in the military took him abroad to Kwajalein and the Eniwetok Atolls.
In 1953 Joe, Betty, and their infant daughter Patrice Lynn moved to California where Joseph continued his work in aviation and their son Roger Joseph was born shortly thereafter. The Antelope Valley became home to the O’Brien’s for many years and is where both Patrice and Roger were raised. Joseph worked for General Electric in their flight test division for 27 years, retiring in 1989. Following his retirement Joe and Betty moved to Show Low, Arizona where they enjoyed their life on the gorgeous forested Mogollon Rim. Their house became a home and was the favorite vacation spot for the entire family who all enjoyed going to visit and helping grandpa care for the plants and friendly critters that filled the lovely yard. In 2011 the O’Brien’s returned to Southern California to be close to their beloved children.
Joseph Albert O’Brien faithfully and earnestly prayed daily; looked at every day as a blessing from God, every experience as a gift from God for his good benefit; he always had a greeting for everyone – friend and stranger alike. My father was genuine and kindly toward every fellow human being without qualification. I would count it my greatest success to ever have become half the true human being my father was in his life. Grant rest eternal in blessed repose, O Lord, to Thy servant Joseph, who hath fallen asleep, and make his memory to be eternal.