Shirley Helen O’Brien, 97, of Berlin, wife of the late George O’Brien Jr., passed away peacefully Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, at Middlesex Health Care Center in Middletown. A native and longtime New Britain resident, Shirley was a graduate of New Britain High School, Class of 1941. Shirley was a war bride, proud of George’s US Navy service during WWII, working at Fafnir Bearing Company during those years. Later she was office manager at Plainville Machine & Tool for many years. Shirley has resided in Berlin since 2008 at Sage Pond Place, among helpful neighbors.
Shirley was the daughter of Gustave and Helen (Yabs) Rush. She will be dearly missed by her three daughters, Cheryl O’Connor and husband Daniel O’Connor of Edison, N.J., Susan O’Brien of Middletown, and Jill Parkin and husband Don Barthelemy of Austin, Texas. She leaves her six beloved grandchildren, Owen O’Connor, Colin, Molly and Mackenzie Felth, Rachel Gonzaga, Susannah Parkin, and beloved great grandson, Ilan Gonzaga. Shirley also leaves sister-in-law Audrey Russo, several nieces and nephews, and family friend Stella St Cyr. Shirley was predeceased by her sister, Ruth Barbour, whom she greatly missed.
Married for 71 years to George, for Shirley, family truly came first. She dedicated her life to her family growing up, and never stopped. Likewise, she loved and was loved by her six grandchildren, who enhanced her life immeasurably. Shirley and George hosted family for many memorable Christmases, a beloved tradition. A positive aspect of Shirley’s life was raising her family in a close knit Glen Street neighborhood.
Shirley was known for being a good seamstress, a joyful pianist, and an avid housekeeper, things she really enjoyed. She planted her flower garden annually, and enjoyed making her family’s favorite dishes. Another favorite activity was dancing, especially tap dancing, which she did at the New Britain Senior Center for many years. Shirley had a lifelong love of books and read avidly. The interest she immersed herself in the most was following the Syracuse Orange and their athletic teams, especially basketball, football, and lacrosse. This team gave Shirley many, many hours of pleasure (and pain), a passion she passed along to her entire family.
A funeral service and burial will be private. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated later at a time when conditions allow it. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Stuttering Foundation of America, P.O. Box 11749, Memphis, TN 38111-0749. Carlson Funeral Home, New Britain, is assisting the family with arrangements. Please share a memory or note of sympathy at www.carlsonfuneralhome.com .