Richard J. O’Brien, 77, of Northampton, devoted son and uncle, passed peacefully Thursday, April 7, 2016, at the Palmer House, Palmer, with his niece Tara (his god-daughter) and close family and friends by his side.
Son of the late Cornelius and Kathryn (Croke) O’Brien, Richard graduated from Chicopee High School in 1955, then attended Williston Academy for a postgraduate year. He was proudly a College of the Holy Cross Crusader, class of 1960.
A natural educator, he taught social studies in the Chicopee school system upon his graduation. Both his identical twin, William, and Richard were very gifted athletes, as highlighted recently with their induction into the Chicopee High School Hall of Fame. No small feat, Richard was also the starting quarterback as an underclassman for the heyday of College of the Holy Cross Football until a game injury left him permanently on the sidelines.
Richard, a gifted writer, was driven by his passions – literature and poetry. He found peace and serenity, and forged great friendships and strong bonds, through these beloved arts as well as his love for nature. He was so ahead of his time, following the teachings of Gandhi and King and applying his passions to courageously and peacefully protest against racism, oppression, unjust wars and conflict, often at his own jeopardy. He “wore his heart on his sleeve”.
Richard adored the City of Northampton as a hotbed of the arts and activism. His friendships there, with so many that shared his passions, beliefs and concerns, were his rock and foundation.
Richard is survived by his sister Anne Ahern of Toledo, Ohio; his brother-in-law Jack; his first cousin Edmund Dowd of Chicopee; his god-daughter and daughter of his twin brother Tara of Brattleboro, Vermont; sons of his twin brother Kevin of Chicopee, and James of Boxford; his grandniece Katie; and all his nieces and nephews and extended family.
Anne, Tara, Katie and all the O’Briens are very grateful to the wonderful, loving and compassionate care for Richard provided by the dedicated staff of the Palmer House. Besides his parents, Richard was also predeceased by his brothers Cornelius, James, Joseph, Thomas and his identical twin brother William.