ERIC WORTHINGTON O'BRIEN
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O'BRIEN, Eric Worthington Of Medfield, MA, Mattapoisett, MA and Norfolk, MA, died on January 7, 2021, peacefully with family by his side, after complications with pneumonia. He was 81.

Eric is survived by his wife of almost 54 years, Claudette Prefontaine O'Brien, his five children, Erin M. O'Brien, Kerry A. Durkin, Colleen L. O'Brien, Meghan A. Taylor and Peter T.C. O'Brien, his brother Kevin Bryan, and nine grandchildren: Ryan, Alison, Mikayla, Mara, Julia, Will, Ella, Dylan and Warren.

Eric was the son of Maurice O'Brien and Laura Cunningham O'Brien. He attended Newton High School, then went on to Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT. Upon graduation in 1961, Eric entered the United States Navy, where he was a Lieutenant, serving on the USS Hank, USS Roberts and USS Huse. Upon exiting the Navy in 1965, Eric began his career as a sales representative for M. E. O'Brien and Sons, Inc., a family business. In 1983, he became the company's owner and President, working tirelessly to grow the business. M. E. O'Brien and Sons is dedicated to assisting municipalities, developers and private corporations to design and build public spaces and urban landscapes. Eric's vision was to offer clients everything they needed to complete their recreation space.

Not only did he continue to build a thriving family business, but also worked toward the advancement of public parks. Eric passionately volunteered countless hours promoting and developing parks and recreation at local, regional and national levels, starting with his involvement with the Town of Medfield, Massachusetts' Parks and Recreation Department (1973-1978, 1990-1991), the Downtown Study Commission and Open Space and Recreation Planning Committee (2013-2014). He also served as Medfield's Cemetery Commissioner, where his priority was to plant trees all over Vinelake Cemetery to create a park-like setting. At the statewide (Massachusetts) level, he served on the Governor's Blue-Ribbon Panel on Land Protection (1998) and the Olmsted Parks State Advisory Board (1980-1990).

Eric started his involvement with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in 1985. His various roles were member of the board of trustees (1985-1994), chair of the board of trustees (1995-1999), member of the national forum (2003-2008), and member of the strategic planning committee (2004). Eric was on the board of governors for the National Recreation and Park Foundation (NRPF) to support research, public policy, and public awareness efforts to advance parks, recreation, and environmental conservation (2006-2012). He served on the board of the Foundation for Sustainable Parks and Recreation created in 2012 and later served as the foundation's chair until 2017.

Eric served as trustee on the board of advisors for the National Association of Olmsted Parks (1984-1990), on the City Park Alliance Board of Directors (2006-2009), and as a world judge and corporate director for Nations in Bloom, Ltd. (1996-2003). Eric also served as a steering committee member for Clemson University's U. S. Play Coalition (2007-2015) and was on the board of directors for the Sajai Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children about healthy lifestyle and nutrition decisions (2007-2010).

Eric was a true gentleman who enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. He loved playing golf, boating and reading. He was a faithful member of the Medfield Lions Club and for many years was a member of the MEMO business organization in Medfield.

At this time, the family will have private Services. Memorial Services will be held at a later date.



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Published in Boston Globe from Jan. 8 to Jan. 9, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
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24 entries
February 7, 2021
Claudette,
I am so sorry about the loss of Eric. I knew him from when I was a kid and he would come to Middletown to talk to my dad, Jack English about Park things. He was such a loving and wonderful person and it was my pleasure to have known him. He was always like our big brother. He will be in my prayers and so will you and your family.
Elizabeth English Cyranowicz
elizabeth Cyranowicz
Friend
February 5, 2021
Claudette,
I’m so sorry for the passing of your beautiful husband, Eric.
He and my dad, Jack English, and Eric’s Dad were good friends, being involved with the Parks.
We enjoyed Eric’s visits to the house when he was in Connecticut and always laughing. Such a great guy !
Please express my condolences to the children for me as well...
With love,
Mercia English
Mercia English
Friend
January 29, 2021
What a privilege to know and spend time in the Medfield Lions and MEMO with Eric. Classic professional and gentleman.
Mark Sawyer
January 22, 2021
A true gentleman. He was a mentor, colleague and friend.
DAVID PINSONNEAULT
Friend
January 19, 2021
Eric will surely be missed at by many at Pin Oaks. I will miss hearing his stories. Rest in Peace dear friend.
Barbara Greenstein
Barbara Greenstein
Friend
January 16, 2021
Eric is a legend and a true champion of parks and recreation. His indomitable spirit and infectious good humor will be long remembered across New England where he was a stalwart supporter of the field and nationally with his leadership as chair of the National Recreation and Park Association and as a guidepost across the park and playground movement. He was a mentor and friend.
Kathy Spangler
January 14, 2021
I had the pleasure of working with Eric as a fellow Landscape Structures representative for many years. He was unfailingly kind and helpful to new reps. His depth of knowledge and passion for the park and recreation industry was huge. It was wonderful to experience his close and loving relationships with his family in their business. Eric will be remembered and missed.
Jennifer Pospichal
Coworker
January 14, 2021
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Scott Hausler
January 12, 2021
Eric 's contributions the all of us Park and Recreation Professionals in Massachusetts and New England are reflected in the strong organizations that he personally helped foster. Promoting educational sessions and networking has assisted us all in providing enhanced recreational opportunities for all of our communities. His dedication has had a lasting affect on so many lives and enriched us all. I hope you will feel comfort in knowing that he contributed to the enjoyment of so many people.
God Bless him and the family that he cherished. We share in your loss.
Joan Fairbank
Friend
January 12, 2021
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Chad Barry
January 12, 2021
I worked with Eric on a number of playground projects for the Pawtucket Parks & Recreation Division. Eric was a class act and was always helpful in guiding our city in purchasing safe and always playfully unique equipment.

My sincere condolences to Meghan and the extended O'Brien families.
Bill Mulholland
January 11, 2021
Eric was a friend, mentor, and exceptional Professional. His passing should make us all realize how fragile life is. I will always remember this man as a person who would always make time for any Parks & Recreation professional, regardless of your position. One of my favorite memories of Eric was a warm spring weekend when he showed up to assist with the installation of a playscape. This was Eric, he would do just about anything for any one of us in the Profession. He will be missed by each and everyone of us as he touched the lives of many.
James Capodiece
Friend
January 11, 2021
I was lucky enough to meet Eric and Claudette the first time through my parents Jack and Nancy in Aruba. Over the course of that trip I got to get to know him and realized he was one cool man. My father always spoke so highly of him and considered him to be good friends. I believe caring for others is one of the greatest traits to have and Eric personified that. I will never forget when he personally escorted me out of the hotel when I was departing. He had walked over from the vacation club to the hotel and waited. I will never forget that and will always remember Eric as a caring, intelligent and sweet man. God Bless him.
Jack McBride Jr.

Jack Mcbride
January 11, 2021
Found another great picture of Eric at the New England Park Association Conference after he presented the new solar cell phone charging station.
Judith Sumner
Acquaintance
January 11, 2021
For many years I enjoyed seeing and speaking with Eric at the New England Park Association meetings and Massachusetts Recreation and Parks Association conferences. Eric had a wealth of knowledge of the park and recreation profession that he shared with so many park professionals. It was a blessing to have known Eric. I will miss our conversations and his presence at future conferences.

My condolences to his family.
Judith Sumner
Acquaintance
January 11, 2021
Eric was a true gentleman and someone that I always enjoyed working with. The work that he did as a volunteer was especially inspirational. I will miss seeing him and getting his unique and almost always very positive outlook on life
phil barlow
Friend
January 11, 2021
Group of 10 Memorial Trees
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James Dobmeier
January 10, 2021
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Eric and visiting with him when I attended various park and rec conferences with my husband. I will remember Eric for his quiet grace and delightful smile! Our sympathy and prayers go out to all of his loved ones! Avis (Eric) Sheffer- Penchura- Michigan
Avis Sheffer
Acquaintance
January 9, 2021
what long fulfilled life mr o had, my condolences to his family on his passing

eric seager and family
eric seager
Acquaintance
January 9, 2021
We grieve the end of an era, loss of a legend and a dear friend. Bob and I will always remember our dearest Eric, namesake for our son and a part of our extended Parks and Recreation family. The sparkle in his eye, his quick wit, his intuitive nature and his wonderful dedication to his loved ones will always be in our hearts. We will always have such amazing memories and stories of our times together, both personal and professional. As we mourn our own loss, we send our love to Claudette and the wonderful O'Brien family as they grieve and our thanks for being able to share the gift of Eric over these past near 50 years.Our hearts are sad but full of love.
Bob and Christy Dlugolenski
Friend
January 9, 2021
I first met Eric & his brother Peter as competitors in 1975. I quickly found them to be fair, honest & the kind of persons you wanted as friends. Peter passed away & Eric faced the task of sustaining the family business. He became deeply involved in leading the leisure field in preserving our heritage, open spaces, advocating for enrichment programs & fostering joint efforts for creation & maintenance of our park system.
Eric's friendship crossed many boundaries, always a gentleman & a gift for finding a kind word, when needed. Safe journey my friend.
DON RHUDA
Friend
January 9, 2021
Mr. O’Brien,
Sir, I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country when you served with the USN as a “Tin Can Sailor” on destroyers and destroyer escorts during the Cold War. Millions of Americans slept safe at night because you and your fellow Servicemen stood ready to defend our Country. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Fair Winds And Following Seas
Mike Casey
January 8, 2021
I have known Eric for 39 years. A true gentleman and friend and someone who I learned a great deal from about the playground business
He will be missed and was loved by all
A classic gentleman
Rick Bieterman
Friend
January 8, 2021
We are so sad to hear of Eric’s passing.
We always enjoyed his visits when we were in Norfolk. John loved seeing him at the football games and enjoyed dinner together with him when we were in town.
We are keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers. ❤
John and Donna DeStefano
Friend
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