James (Jim) Todd O'Brien, 73, died Tuesday, November 8, 2016 in Athens, Georgia.
He leaves his beloved wife of 52 years, Tommye Chittom O'Brien; daughter Shannon O'Brien Wilder; grandson Declan O'Brien Wilder; and close extended family Jim and Ellen Chittom of Watkinsville, GA; and Paul and Patsy Sullivan of Hattiesburg, MS.
Born in Mullins, SC in 1943, he grew up as the son of a local movie theater owner and was a gifted athlete. After graduating high school he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Florida where he met his wife, Tommye Gaye, a public school teacher. He was proud of his service in the Air Force, but had the unusual job of "playing 2nd base for his country," as he always said, traveling and playing exhibition games with the Patrick Air Force Base team.
In 1968, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Mississippi College and moved back to Florida to work in the burgeoning aerospace industry during the height of the Space Race, which fueled his lifelong love for the space program. After relocating to Houston, Texas in 1974, which became "home base" for 30 years, he had a long, and successful career in the oil and gas industry working for Bechtel and Exxon Mobil. His adventurous spirit and strong work ethic prompted him to take many assignments overseas working on oilfield blowouts, and he traveled the world-often with his family in tow-living in places as diverse as Medan, Indonesia and Princeton, NJ before always returning to his adopted state of Texas. He ended his career in the environmental auditing industry, working in Washington, DC for Clean Sites, Inc., and eventually founding his own company, ERI Audit.
After his retirement, he and his wife relocated to Watkinsville, GA to be near their daughter and extended family, and became members of Beech Haven Baptist Church. He was known to his many friends and family as a generous, fun, and loving man who was devoted to his family and felt they were his greatest accomplishment. He considered his final and greatest job to be "full-time granddaddy," a position he said he was born for.
The family will receive friends at Lord and Stephens, East in Athens on Friday, November 11, 2016 from 1-2 pm with the service immediately following at 2 pm. Rev. John Walker will officiate the service and burial at Athens Memory Gardens. Pallbearers will be brother-in-law Jim Chittom, Sr.; nephews Jim Chittom, Jr. and John C. Chittom; great-nephews Jim Chittom III, John Walker Chittom, Chandler Chittom, and David Chittom; and nephew-in-law Jim Synan.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to the University of Georgia Office of Service-Learning.
Lord and Stephens, East is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com
1943 - 2016
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Published by Athens Banner-Herald on Nov. 10, 2016.