CHINOOK William Patrick "Pat" O'Brien, 79, of Chinook, died after a brief battle with cancer Monday, Jan. 21 .
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Rosary service is 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Chinook. Funeral Mass is 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the church. Burial will follow at Kuper Cemetery. Edwards Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Pat was the youngest of three children born to Harry and Lelia O'Brien in Wabash, Neb. His life began with his lifelong accomplice, cousin and friend John Greene. Born four hours apart these two had many adventures together. Pat was quite the athlete and at one time was destined to play baseball, trying out for the Brooklyn Dodgers before rheumatic fever almost took his life. He joined the US Air Force and became an air traffic controller serving in various parts of the country. In 1956, he married Phyllis Skelton of Geyser and they had six children. They eventually settled in Stanford where Pat embarked on his next career, education. He received his degree from the College of Great Falls and the family moved to Missoula where Pat taught in Victor and coached boys football and basketball.
In 1979, Pat took a job as elementary principal in Chinook. In 1981, he married Kathy Boukal. They were married 31 years at the time of his death. During this time, Pat had a great time teaching, coaching girls basketball and after his retirement, serving on several community boards, volunteering wherever necessary or asked and hanging out with Gary Smith. Two of his proudest accomplishments were winning back- to-back State Girls Basketball Championships in 1985 and 1986 and voted "Coach of the Year".
We have been blessed in hearing from so many people whose lives Pat touched along the way. To say that we lost a great man is an understatement. Pat had a kind heart, was generous in spirit, laughed with many as he shared his quick wit and valued each and every one of his friends. Pat cared deeply for his friends, his former students and his basketball players. He was an educator both in and out of the classroom and on and off the court, mentoring and guiding his students/ballplayers. Pat's life was full as he was devoted to his faith, family and his community. The town of Chinook became his extended family and it was his dying wish to come home and say good-bye and thank you to all who loved and cared for him.
Survivors include his wife, Kathy; children, Pat (Donna) O'Brien of Davis, Calif., Cathy (Jim) Adams of Los Angeles, Calif., Charlie O'Brien of Bakersfield, Calif., Julie (Mike) Glavin of Bakersfield, Calif. and Laurie (Steve) Anderson of Laurel; and six grandchildren; sister, Joy Lloyd; niece, Mary Lloyd; and nephews, Mike O'Brien and Larry O'Brien.
Pat was preceded in death by daughter, Carrie Lynn O'Brien; his parents, Harry and Lelia O'Brien; and his brother, John Keith O'Brien.
Memorials may be made to the Chinook Senior Citizen Center, St. Gabriel Catholic Church, Chinook High School Athletic Department or to the Cancer Association.
Published in Great Falls Tribune from Jan. 26 to Jan. 28, 2013