Eugene M. (Gene) O’Brien, age 79, of Rural, WI passed away at his home on September 8, 2023 after a long battle with COPD.
Gene was born on October 8, 1943 in New London, the son of the late Robert and Ethel O’Brien. He attended Maple Hill Grade School and graduated from New London High School. He was raised in the Town of Lebanon, a small farming community with mostly Irish and German immigrants. He was born just after the Great Depression and in the middle of World War II and considered himself to be part of “The Greatest Generation”. Gene was the second eldest of 16 children and grew up on a dairy farm. The family was very frugal, but “I had plenty to eat, clothes to wear, and was given all the love and affection I could absorb. I was taught to stand up straight, put my chest out and be proud of myself. I can be whatever I want to be if I follow my dreams.” Gene was raised as a Christian with Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.Gene prayed to find someone to marry and raise a family. He met Jeanne K. Thurk. She turned him down three times before accepting a date. They were married on November 26, 1966. “Our wedding day was a proud day in my life. When I watched her walk down the aisle, I whispered, Thank you God”. Jeanne was strong, proud, kind, gentle, unselfish, and a wonderful stay-at-home Mom. Jeanne preceded him in death on December 30, 2017. “A tear trickled down my face as I asked Jeanne to save a spot for me in heaven.”
Gene owned and operated O’Brien Builders, specializing in new home design and construction until the time of his retirement. He was also a licensed real estate agent, Third Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, a member of the Manawa Lions Club, and served as an alderman for the city of Manawa. He was especially passionate about O’Brien Maple Grove, the family maple syrup operation.
Gene and Jeanne raised three sons. Dennis, Patrick, and Jeffrey. A fourth son Steven passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. “It devastated us. Many marriages do not survive such a tragedy, but we did! I was blessed to see my sons marry and see my grandchildren grow” In 1995, they moved into a beautiful home in the Village of Rural on the Crystal River and lived in total appreciation of the many visits with friends and family and all God’s blessings.
Gene is survived by three children: Dennis (Tracy) O’Brien, and their children Ashley (Spencer), Austin (fiancee’ Ashley), Alison; Patrick (Carmen) O’Brien, and their children Grace and Jack; Jeffrey (Samantha) O’Brien, and their children, Morgan and Stephen O’Brien, Lucca and Matteo Correa Kniess. He is survived by siblings: Brian (Patricia) O’Brien, Betty Retzke, Mary (Ray) Hosmer, Sara (Andy) Thomack, Robert (Kathleen) O’Brien, Martin (Rita) O’Brien, Joe (Lori) O’Brien, Ann (Mike) Warning, Ed (Jenny) O’Brien, Peter (Lorena) O’Brien, David (Kim) O’Brien and Bridget (Tom) Wenman; Special friends: Carol Zook and Daryl Lockwood. He is further survived by numerous nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; a son; brothers, James, Thomas, and William; Sister-in-law, Shirley; niece Heidi O’Brien; nephews, Andrew O’Brien, and Jason Hosmer.
A visitation will be held on Friday, September 29, 2023 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at “O’Brien Maple Grove” located at N6465 O’Brien Rd., Manawa, WI with a prayer service at 6:00 p.m., followed by an Irish-style tribute. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Town of Lebanon (New London) with visitation at the church from 9:00 a.m. until the time of the service. Fr. Jay Fostner will officiate. Burial will be in the St. Patrick parish cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial funds will be sent to the Ethel O’Brien Scholarship Fund. The family wishes to extend a special thank you to the staff at Compassus Hospice Care. We would also like to thank Carol Zook, Tommy O’Brien, and other friends and family for their loving care of Gene.
Cline & Hanson Funeral Home
209 W. Cook St
New London, WI