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William George O'Brien

May 4, 2017

The Piano Brothers

William G. O'Brien (Willy) died suddenly at home May 4, 2017 at the age of 69.  He was born in Oswego, NY, the son of William F. O'Brien and Margaret (Robertson) O'Brien.  He grew up in the snowfall capital of the United States on the southern shores of Lake Ontario and graduated from Oswego Catholic High School.  He earned a NY State Regents scholarship to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he majored in Chemical Engineering.  He attended Iowa State University where he earned both his MS and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering and met his wife of 45 years, Lee Groves.

 

Upon graduation, Willy joined the DuPont Company and proudly worked as a R & D chemical engineer for 34 years at five sites, beginning at Towanda, PA for 12 years, followed by four Wilmington area assignments ending in CR&D.  He counted his work on Riston, Philips-DuPont Optical, EcoChem, Gas Separation Membranes and fuel cells among the highlights of his career, always crediting his outstanding colleagues for his success.

 

During his career, he was awarded 9 patents and three DuPont Engineering Excellence Awards.

 

After retiring in 2008, Willy pursued life long and new interests including vegetable gardening and dahlia growing, learning to play the saxophone, traveling to Africa, Japan and the western national parks, following 24-hour sports car racing, and restoring, driving and showing off  British sports cars.  He raised and trained 5 Irish Wolfhounds during his lifetime and volunteered with PAWS for People making friendly visits to schools and nursing homes with his last two dogs. He loved music of all kinds and attended many memorable concerts including Woodstock.  A lifelong NY Giants fan he especially enjoyed arguing the team's many merits with his son and grandson.

 

Willy is survived by his wife, Lee; his son, Richard William O'Brien and daughter in law Rita (Boyle); grandchildren, Jacob Michael O'Brien and Angelina Margaret O'Brien of Merchantville, New Jersey; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Mary (Groves) Loucks and Dr. Eric Loucks of Austin, Texas.

 

Services for Willy will be private.

 

In lieu of flowers the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to PAWS for People, PO Box 9955, Newark, DE 19714 (www.pawsforpeople.org) or to a charity of your choice.


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