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Paul F. O'Brien

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Lt. Paul Francis O'Brien, retired B.F.D, and Walter Scott Medal for Valor recipient, of Pembroke, formerly of Quincy, died Sunday morning Oct. 20, 2013, at age 87, at Brigham and Womens Faulkner Hospital. Paul spent his last moments surrounded by his family and enveloped in their love. Although many knew Paul as Lieutenant O'Brien, his children knew him simply as Dad. His wife, Elizabeth Frances O'Brien remembers him as her loving and devoted husband, and his fourteen grandchildren will forever love and remember him as Grampie. Paul was born in 1926 in Dorchester and married the love of his life, Elizabeth Frances Hook, in 1955. He joined the Boston Fire Department in 1957 fulfilling his lifelong dream to become a firefighter. From his childhood home, Paul could hear the ring of the firehouse bell that rang as a signal to gather the firefighters before they embarked on another life-saving mission. Every time Paul heard the bell in his adolescence, his desire to one-day join the men who risked their lives to save the lives of others intensified. Paul not only fulfilled that dream, but surpassed it as he worked his way to the rank of Lieutenant. As a firefighter, Paul saved numerous lives; however, he is most remembered by the Boston Fire Department for one save in particular. In 1973 when the department was responding to a fire, Paul OBrien, then an Acting Lieutenant, saved a woman, from a fire in a three-family home. After repeated attempts to climb the front stairs and being driven back by the heat, he made his way over a ladder to the third floor where he rescued an unconscious woman while suffering smoke inhalation and burns on his face, neck and ears. In recognition of his heroic actions, the Fire Commissioner awarded Acting Fire Lt. Paul F. O'Brien the Walter Scott Medal for Valor on October 22, 1973. This award is presented by the Fire Commissioner to the Firefighter who, in his judgment, has during the calendar year, especially distinguished himself for valor in the performance of his duty as a firefighter. This award shall be made each year unless in the opinion of the Fire Commissioner, there is no firefighter entitled to receive such a medal. Paul honored the fire department throughout his life. Paul's countless stories of his missions on Engine 22 and Ladder 11 shall live on through his family and friends who will continue to remember him as the brave and loving man he was and who will continue to retell his stories to the future generations that survive him. Paul only had one love that was greater than his love of his days on the Boston Fire Department, and that love was for his wife and his family. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, and an uncle, but most of all he was a friend. Paul was the one person everybody could always depend upon as he spread his unconditional love. His memory will live on in their hearts and in their faith. Paul is survived by his loving wife, Elizabeth Frances O'Brien; as well as seven of their eight children, John O'Brien and his wife Diane, Paul O'Brien and his wife Gail, Kevin O'Brien and his wife Kristen, Ellen Leonard and her husband Edward, Meghan Haggerty and her husband Michael, David O'Brien and his wife Colleen, and Gerald O'Brien. His fourteen grandchildren also respectively survive him, Brendan O'Brien, Casey O'Brien, Sean O'Brien, Eddie Leonard, Sara O'Brien, Mary Margaret Leonard, Erin O'Brien, Shauna O'Brien, Elizabeth Leonard, Kelly O'Brien, Liam O'Brien, Lauren O'Brien, Olivia O'Brien, and Hannah O'Brien. One of seven children, Paul is also survived by his sister, Anna Donahue and his sister-in-law Ellie O'Brien. In Heaven, he will be joining his son, William O'Brien, as well as five of his siblings, Lawrence O'Brien, Rita Strachan, Marion Russo, William O'Brien, and John O'Brien. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the visiting hours Wednesday 4-8 p.m. in the Keohane Funeral Home, 785 Hancock St., Quincy. A celebration of life service will be held in the funeral home at 9:15 a.m. Thursday prior to the funeral Mass in Sacred Heart Church, Quincy, at 10 a.m. Burial in New Calvary Cemetery, Boston. Donations in memory of Paul may be made to Friends of the Unborn, P.O. Box 692246, Quincy, MA 02269-2246. See www.Keohane.com or call 1-800-Keohane for directions and online condolences.

Published in The Patriot Ledger on Oct. 22, 2013
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