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James Edward O'Brien, 84, a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, peacefully passed away on November 22, 2023. Affectionately known as "Obie" to those close to him, he was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. His unwavering faith in Jesus Christ defined his life as a devout Catholic.
Born on July 15th, 1939, to Thomas R. O'Brien and Beatrice (Keller) O'Brien in Indianapolis, Obie was always affectionally thought of by his three older siblings- Beatrice deHebreard, Thomas, and Jack. He was the grandson of Irish emigrants and the great-grandson of German emigrants.
A graduate of Cathedral High School in 1958, Obie's journey took an unexpected turn when his mother insisted that he pursue higher education at Purdue in West Lafayette, following in the footsteps of his two older brothers. During his time at Purdue, he met the love of his life, Mary Ann (Clark), and after a three-year courtship, they exchanged vows at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in 1963 a few months after his graduation from Purdue.
Embarking on a fulfilling career, Obie commenced his teaching and coaching tenure at Chartrand High School in Indianapolis in the fall of 1963. His role encompassed subjects such as Phys Ed, Health & Science, Biology, and Drivers Ed. He also served as the line coach for varsity football, and head coach for wrestling. Furthering his education, Obie earned a Master’s Degree from Butler University.
Despite facing the heartbreak of losing their first child, Joe Louis, within 20 minutes of birth, Obie and Maryann went on to have four more children over the next five years. They took great joy in the visits from their children’s families: Dan O'Brien & Julane Beetham, Julie (O'Brien) Porter, Greg O’Brien, and Terri (O'Brien) & Jeff Drake, along with their 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
After Chartrand and Kennedy High Schools merged to form Roncalli in 1970, he continued his role as a biology teacher, and became the athletic director & assistant wrestling coach. In 1974, he joined Pike High School, concluding his illustrious 40-year career in 2002. At Pike, Obie taught regular and honors freshman biology, coached freshman football, served as both assistant & varsity wrestling coach, and taught Driver’s Ed & Biology during summer sessions.
His impact as the varsity wrestling coach for 24 years at Pike was profound, leading to 11 sectional team championships and numerous individual accolades for his wrestlers including his two sons placing 3rd & 4th in the Indiana state tournament under his tutelage. This dedication earned him a well-deserved place in the Indiana Wrestling Coaches Hall-of-Fame.
Retirement did not signal an end to Obie's commitment to service. He dedicated his time to volunteering for esteemed organizations like the Shepherds of Christ Ministries, overseeing a local voting center during elections, and praying for babies and mothers outside an abortion clinic. True to his character, Obie found great joy in helping his family.
Obie was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 58 years, Mary Ann, as well as his brother Tom and sister Beatrice. His memory lives on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him, a testament to a life richly lived, marked by faith, family, and an enduring legacy of dedication to education and community service.
The Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 am, Tuesday, December 5, 2023 in St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, where friends are invited to gather from 9:30 until the time of the Mass. Inurnment will follow in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery.
Arrangements are entrusted to the in the care of Eric MD Bell Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Pittsboro, Indiana. All are encouraged to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and all the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.