Kathleen Theresa O’Brien, died peacefully in Troy, NY on April 1st at the age of 96. Kathleen, daughter of Hugh and Katherine Greene, was born August 6, 1923. Along with her sister Margaret, they lived in a cold water flat in the South Bronx. Despite the turbulent times of her childhood, (the depression followed by WWII), the sisters thrived in this loving home.
Becoming an accomplished violinist, the red-haired Kathleen accompanied her father, who also played the violin, to many “feis”, or Gaelic cultural festivals common to the Irish neighborhoods in the Bronx and Manhattan. They fiddled away, entertaining crowds with their reels and jigs. Eventually, Kathleen joined the band of Hughie Gillipsie, one of the most influential fiddlers of his generation. She went on to play with the band, both on radio as well as in the recording studio.
At one such festival, Kathleen met, and fell in love with, Eamon DeValera O’Brien, an immigrant from Sion Mills, County Tyrone, Ireland. After being married on June 7th, 1952 at St. Luke’s Church in the Bronx, Kathleen and Eamon, on the advice of Kathleen’s mom, bought a home in Whitestone, Queens. Wasting no time at all, the couple soon welcomed the first of 6 children, Eamon DeValera Jr. into the world on March 22nd, 1953. Eamon was followed by their only daughter, Patricia (1954), then sons Kieran (1956), William (1957), John (1959), and Kevin (1964). Throughout the years Kathleen’s sister, and best friend Margaret, along with her husband John, and their three children, Kathleen, Eileen and Jim, would make the trip to Queens from Manhattan to join in a pool party or holiday celebration.
Fifteen or-so-years later, after thousands of meals and diapers (remember, no pampers), and dozens of cut knees, scout trips, school conferences, and trips to the hospital, Kathleen re-entered the workforce, determined to get a vacation. She began her second career as a sales associate for a department store. Not only was she one of the best sales employees, she was seemingly loved by each of her fellow employees as a friend, sister, or even mother.
Retiring in 1996, Kathleen used much of her time becoming closer to the family that had been growing all these years. Added to the O’Brien clan were Alison, Elaine, Joyce, Andy, Eric, Mickey, Annmarie, Flint and Helen. There were also 8 grandchildren, (Christopher, Meagan, Andrew (& Ana), Michael (&Theresa), Eric (& Kate), Matthew, Kelsey and Dasha), as well as 4 great-grandchildren (Gavin 4, Ethan 2, James 3, and Abigail 1). Kathleen moved to the Eddy Senior Living Community 5 years ago where she again took to entertaining the crowds with her tales of proper child rearing and gourmet cooking.
Surprisingly, though having left us days ago, Kathleen has not yet made it into heaven. She’s been talking the ear off of St. Peter at the gate. Never having been there, she can get awfully excited. It’s like when you take her to a fancy restaurant (the Olive Garden or the Outback), she can’t contain herself. And when you give her a glass of wine to calm down, the laughing begins. Anyway, she is not in yet, and she keeps asking him about the gate, what is it made of, when does it open, stuff like that. Actually, I think she is trying to make him feel important, she figures he’s just a gatekeeper, which is not the best job in the world. Anyway, the big guy will have to step in soon, otherwise there will be a bottleneck that backs up all the way down to purgatory.
All kidding aside, making someone feel important was just one of Kathleen’s very special gifts. When you were down, or worried, afraid, or felt like you were failing, Kathleen would make you feel important. She never handed you the answer to the problem, she knew you had to figure it out on your own. Kathleen gave you the confidence, and the courage, to make a choice. She made you feel as if you were important, important enough to make the right decision and fix your own problem.
Kathleen joins her mom, Katherine, her dad Hughie, sister Margaret, brother-in-law John, her cousin James, and her niece Kathleen. She is now reunited with her husband Eamon, and now after many years, takes her sons Eamon Jr and John, back into her arms.
Due to the current health restrictions regarding the coronavirus, services and burial will be privately held at Mount St Mary’s Cemetery in Flushing, NY. A remembrance mass and celebration of Kathleen's life will be held at a later date at St Mel’s Catholic Church in Flushing, NY.The Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center became Kathleen's home five and half years ago and she truly did think of it as her home. She made friends with many residents and most importantly, with many, many staff members. The nurses, CNAs, housekeepers, activities & maintenance staff and food service workers all would visit with her and they shared many laughs and stories. And the care she received there was excellent. The staff of the Eddy show great compassion and caring for the residents and Kathleen would be forever grateful for contributions to this fund made in her memory. Memorial contributions may be made to the EMGC employee fund 2256 Burdett Avenue, Troy, New York 12180