Herbert Joseph O'Brien

Herbert Joseph O'Brien

Herbert Joseph O'Brien passed away on October 22, 2012. Born in Seattle to Edward and Dorothy O'Brien in 1944, Herb attended Lake Washington High School and the University of Washington. He left the UW and founded O'Brien Water Skis in the basement of his family home on Lake Sammamish before moving the company to Redmond.

A legend in the industry, Herb built O'Brien Water Skis into one of the largest water ski companies in the world. In 1981 Herb founded HO Sports. Over the next 20 years Herb built that company into the dominate manufacturer in the industry. He was instrumental in creating the Wakeboard industry by building the first compression molded wakeboard in 1991, changing the sport forever. For Herb, it didn't stop there; in 2006 he helped start Radar Skis and Ronix Wakeboards, once again creating the leading brands in the industry. In the world of watersports Herb is best known for his mechanical genius and innovative product development.

Herb's lifelong passion for the Water Ski industry and all the people he came in contact with as a result of his dedication were what he lived for. Anyone with the privilege of knowing Herb remembers him for his generosity and giving nature. There are endless stories of his compassion told by the hundreds of people who worked for him over the years.

One of Herb's visions was the construction of the ultimate water ski experience by building Radar Lake in 1972. A truly phenomenal lake surrounded by evergreens with views that go forever. Countless memories have been had by so many with Herb at Radar Lake.

Herb is survived by his wife Pam Fleming O'Brien, son Paul O'Brien, daughter Melissa Tomandl, son-in-law John Tomandl, grandson Spencer Tomandl, sisters Rita O'Brien and Phyllis Sappenfield, brother-in-law Jack Sappenfield, and brother Ed (Dint) O'Brien.

A celebration of Herb's life will be held at Radar Lake on Nov 3, 2012 at 12:00pm. 14202 232nd Ave NE, Woodinville, WA 98077.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Northwest Kidney Center Foundation.

Funeral Home

Sunset Hills Funeral Home
1215 145th Place SE Bellevue, WA 98007
(425) 746-1400

Published in The Seattle Times on Oct. 28, 2012