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Edward R. O'Brien, 93, died Monday, September 30 at Sunrise Senior Care, Pittsburgh. Mr. O'Brien was born January 18, 1920 in Erie to John R. and Violet (Kelly) O'Brien and was preceded in death by his wife of over 66 years, Helen H. O'Brien, who passed away in January of this year. Mr. O'Brien was raised in Erie, graduated from Academy High School and Westminster College where he later served as a Trustee and Trustee Emeritus. He was a member of Perry Lodge #392 F&AM, Zem Zem Shrine, Kiwanas, East Erie Turners, Lake Shore Country Club and other service and social organizations. The O'Briens were members of First Presbyterian Church, Erie, where he served as an Elder.
During World War II
, Mr. O'Brien, a founder of the Civil Air Patrol in Erie, enlisted in the U.S. Army
Air Corps, which became the U.S. Air Force
. He qualified in both fighters and bombers but never deployed. He supervised the manufacture of the Martin Mars cargo transport seaplane at Glenn L. Martin Corporation near Baltimore. The Mars was among the largest aircraft built for WWII and two still serve as forest fire-fighting tankers in the West.
After the war, Mr. O'Brien returned to Erie where he married and began his career with Northwest Electric Company, an electrical contracting business founded during the Depression by his father. He served in various capacities, eventually becoming President and Chairman, during which time the company expanded its operations to include offices in Ashtabula and Marietta, Ohio and Parkersburg, W.Va
Mr. O'Brien was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed hunting and fishing in Alaska, Ontario, Wyoming, Montana, and the Pennsylvania woods near his second home in Warren County, Pa. One of his trophies, a standing Alaskan Grizzly was a curiosity at his office on the corner of 11th and Chestnut, and often caught the eye of passersby who might glance through the office windows. He was also an accomplished woodworker and enjoyed building furniture and complex wooden keepsakes until a year before his death.
He is survived by a son and two daughters, John R. "Jack" O'Brien (Pamela) of Pittsburgh, Pa., Susan A. Purcell (Richard) of New Wilmington, Pa., and Jane A. Marti (Phillip) of Port Royal, S.C.; five grandchildren, Joshua Else (Anna) of Cockeysville, Md., Michael O'Brien (Maureen) of Moon, Twp, Pa., Molly Harrison (Mickey) of Los Angeles, Calif., Tamla O'Brien of St. Croix, USVI, and Heather Plis (Corey) of Charleston, S.C. There are six great-grandchildren, Brie Coyle, Margaret Else, Gavin Else, Alexander O'Brien, Haley Plis and Gavin Plis. Mr. O'Brien leaves three sisters, Norma Fagan of Naples, Fla., Marilyn Armstrong of Port Orange, Fla., and Barbara Smith of Jamestown, N.Y. Another sister, Dorothy Jacobson, is deceased.
He will be remembered by all as honorable, kind, and loving, a gentle man who loved his family and God.
Friends may call on Friday at the Francis V. Kloecker Funeral Home, Inc., 2502 Sassafras St., Erie, PA 16502 from 3-5 and 7-9 and are invited to the Funeral Service there on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Send condolences to www.kloeckerfuneralhome.com
Burial will be in Laurel Hill Cemetery with full military honors.
Published in the Erie Times-News on Oct. 3, 2013