Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 15, 2010
William Grantham “Bill” O’Brien, 89, passed away peacefully August 13, 2010, at Southampton Memorial Hospital with his wife, Ann at his side. He was born in Clarke County, Berryville, Virginia, April 29, 1921, the son of M. G. and Ethel Sipe O’Brien. Mr. O’Brien was educated in the public schools there. In 1939, he joined the Headquarters Company of the 91st Inf. Brigade in Berryville, Va., which was called into federal service in February, 1941. He served with the 29th Infantry Division in World War II, participating in the Normandy invasion on the coast of France on “D” Day, June 6, 1944. He participated in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns. During his five years of active service, he received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, French Croix de Guerre, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, African Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon with four bronze stars, Unit Citation and Victory Medal.
O’Brien retired from the National Guard as Lt. Colonel in 1974. He was Battalion Commander of the 3rd Battalion (AW) 111th Artillery (SP) with headquarters in Portsmouth and later served as executive officer in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery of the 224 Field Artillery Group, Sanston, Va.
After his discharge from service, he joined the Virginia State Police on October 1, 1945, serving 27 years, of which 24 years were spent in Franklin. His duty assignment included parts of Isle of Wight and Southampton Counties. Besides his field duties, he was an instructor for 20 years at the State Police Academy in Richmond, Va., instructed at the Tidewater Police Academy at Old Dominion University, and other law enforcement training schools in the Tidewater area and Eastern Shore. O’Brien attended police science classes at Virginia Commonwealth University and received an Associate Degree in Applied Science, Summa Cum Laude from Paul D. Camp Community College. O’Brien was appointed Chief of Police of Franklin December 1, 1972, serving 8 years, retiring May 1, 1981, thus completing 36 years of law enforcement.
He was an active member of the Hunterdale United Church of Christ, having served as Sunday School Superintendent, Deacon, and teacher. He served approximately 20 years as a member of the Operations Council Lake Prince Center from its inception until completion. He later joined Franklin Congregational Christian Church. O’Brien was a Charter member and past President, of the Hunterdale Ruritan Club. He was a 50-year member of the Franklin Masonic Lodge #151 A.F.A.M.
O’Brien is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ann Daughtrey O’Brien; his daughter Constance Ann & husband Charles H. Griffin of Windsor; his son, William G. O’Brien, Jr. and wife Nancy of Arlington; three granddaughters, Anne Marie and husband Brian Camden of Va. Beach; Holly Lynnette Griffin of Durham, N.C.; and Kimberly Elaine O’Brien, of Va. Beach; as well as a step grandson, Chad Myers and step granddaugher, Wendy Meyers; and a great grandson, Bryce Vincent Camden.
The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Monday, August 16, at Wright Funeral Home with the Rev, James H. Hyatt, Jr. officiating. Interment, with military honors, will follow in Poplar Springs Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Franklin Congregational Christian Church or the American Heart Association.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Robert Edwards and the Medical and Nursing Staff of Southampton Memorial Hospital for their care and assistance during Mr. O’Brien’s recent hospitalization there. www.wrightfuneralhome.org