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O'BRIEN, Marie Charlotte - Spokane  
O'BRIEN, Marie Charlotte "Chotsie ~ Dear One" October 5, 1923 - April 23, 2016 On a warm August morning in 1946, the newlywed Chotsie O'Brien walked arm-in-arm with her husband across the tarmac to board a plane taking her from her home and family in Baltimore across the continent to an obscure Western town and a new family she had never met. Chotsie's father, William Henry Muth, who worked in the family's prosperous pharmaceutical company, had died when Chotsie was 14. Her mother, Marie Charlotte Cary, raised her eight children in an affectionate family that was immersed in their Catholic Faith. Chotsie attended All Saints Catholic School just around the corner from their large Victorian house. She went on to Mount St. Agnes High School, where she received her nickname and was an all-league field hockey player. After high school, Chotsie completed the two year secretarial degree at Mount Saint Agnes, becoming an expert in taking shorthand. After college, she continued to live at home, taking care of her ailing mother and working for the Baltimore office of the FBI. It was a happy time in her life; working at an exciting job and socializing with the "gang" from the office. Chotsie's older brother, Will was stationed near Baltimore, and one Friday his wife brought Chotsie to the base for an officer's dance. Will had picked the company's "most harmless" young officer to be Chotsie's blind date. The young officer turned out to be one Jack O'Brien of Spokane, Washington. Chotsie and Jack immediately hit it off, the courtship commenced, and Jack proposed in March, 1945. Jack returned after a year in Japan, and on August 10, 1946, they were married. Chotsie's brother, Father Charles F. Muth, performed the ceremony. The only member of Jack's immediate family present was his brother Pat, who hitchhiked from Spokane. After a honeymoon in New York City, it was time for Jack and Chotsie to make their own life in Spokane. This must have been exciting and frightening for Chotsie, who had lived her whole life in her Mother's home. Chotsie must have known that she would rarely see her beloved family again. In fact she only saw her mother twice again after getting on that plane, and most of her seven siblings she saw only a few times. Her brother, Father Muth, would visit Washington every other year and bring a few of Chotsie's many nieces and nephews. Chotsie herself made only a few trips back to Baltimore over the next 70 years. It took a lot of love and courage to board that plane. Chotsie and Jack moved in with Jack's parents near Gonzaga College. Chotsie helped care for Jack's mother, and the two became best friends. Jack and Chotsie's daughter, Margaret was born the following May. The young family bought their own house, and within two years had two sons join their daughter. Jack's job with Standard Oil took him to Okanogan, where two more daughters were born. Chotsie, who was raised in a prosperous family, in a fine house, in an upscale neighborhood, in a sophisticated city, found herself with five kids age six or below, living in a small town in a remote outpost of Washington. Things were about to get interesting. Chotsie was pregnant again, and the doctor suspected twins. Father Muth, who was visiting at the time, put his hand on Chotsie's belly and pronounced, "It looks like three babies to me." The Reverend was right, and in September, 1953, the triplets were born. The family now included eight children, and the oldest was just six years old. The town of Okanogan pitched in to help, laundering cloth diapers and sterilizing bottles, and somehow Chotsie and Jack made it all work. Jack was transferred back to Spokane, where Chotsie had five more babies by 1963, making a nice round number of 13. Chotsie and Jack made an incredible team, creating a nurturing environment where the children challenged and supported one another. Theirs was always the backyard where the neighborhood kids gathered to play games. When her youngest entered first grade, Chotsie re-entered the work force, first at St. Peter's School and then in the attendance office at Ferris High school. Many a teenager found that they could not fool Chotsie with their phony excuses - she had heard them all from her own kids! Chotsie was an incredible Chief Operating Officer of the family. She organized the kids so that they kept the house clean and did the dishes after every meal, she taught the girls to cook so they could help in the kitchen, assigned teams to make school lunches assembly-line style, coordinated simultaneous bedding changes for 14 beds, kept all 13 kids supplied with winter coats, snow boots, school uniforms, and Sunday outfits, enrolled every child in swimming lessons... it was an amazing managerial feat. She expected her children to be responsible and independent, and they were. She sacrificed a lot in her life, and she taught her family to be willing to sacrifice. And she made it all enjoyable with her dry wit and fun sense of humor. Chotsie had a warm, winning personality. When she worked at Ferris, there was always a long list of girls who wanted to help her in the office. Her children often had the experience of running into a childhood friend years later, and the first thing the friend would say was "How are your Mom and Dad?" She took on the role of Gramma to the neighborhood kids, some of whom continued to visit her and Jack after they moved to Touchmark. She was very popular with the staff at Touchmark, and many of them visited her during her last days. Her daughters-in-law loved her deeply. Everyone who knew Chotsie felt that they had a special bond with her, and she gave many of her family and friends funny nicknames that only she would use. She never missed sending her dozens of family members a birthday or graduation card. Chotsie was highly intelligent. She was a whiz at crosswords, did the daily Jumbles puzzle in a few seconds, read extensively, and was a skilled Bridge player. Thirty years after her graduation, she was still able to help one teenager with his Latin homework. She inspired her kids to further their education by setting up a household where school work was second only to Faith. Every day she would sing "Do good work" as she sent them off to school. Her Catholic faith was strong and lasting. The family prayed before and after every meal, never missed Sunday Mass (even on vacations), and every child had a Rosary on their bed post. Her faith showed in her empathy and willingness to help others. Chotsie lived a vibrant, happy life right to the end. She was still laughing, going to Mass, critiquing the Mariners bullpen, walking outside, and imitating her great-granddaughter hopping over the sidewalk cracks. Chotsie's remarkable life is reflected by the immense affection, respect and admiration that her grandsons and especially her granddaughters had for her. This group of young women, with multiple Doctoral degrees, business successes, and professional accomplishments, held Chotsie in the highest possible esteem. Our "dear one" Chotsie was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, John M. O'Brien, Jr "Jack"; her daughter, Anne, and great-grandbabies, Season and Griffin. She is survived by her children, Margo Shute (Roger), John (Angie), Bernie, Tricia Knauss (Jim), Rita Valentine (Jim), Rose Milhem (Bob), Chuck, Larry (Linda), Peter (Carol), Theresa Luciani (Tom), Clare McCracken (Jim), Rob (Jill); son-in-law and daughter-in-law, Tim and Judy Williams; 39 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren. The O'Brien family would like to thank the staff at Touchmark, especially Chotsie's caregiver, Hope, for their kindness and caring, and Dr. Muneer Hassan for his professionalism and empathy. Visitation from 6:00 to 7:00pm on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at Hennessey Funeral Home & Crematory, 2203 N. Division St., Spokane, WA. Rosary to follow at 7:00pm at the same location. Funeral Mass at 11:00am on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, 1517 E. 33rd Ave. Spokane, WA. Please visit to share your thoughts and memories with our family.
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Published in Spokesman-Review on May 1, 2016
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