With his immediate family at his side, Wesley James O'Brien, Sr. of Fairy Glen Drive, North Haven, passed away peacefully on February 7, 2014, at the age of 102. He was the son of James A. O'Brien and Georgeina Shaw O'Brien. His two brothers, Andrew O'Brien and Dr. George O'Brien, predeceased him. Wes, born in New Haven on July 15, 1911, had the unique experience of a life that spanned the Machine Age, the Great Depression, the Atomic Age, the Information Age and five wars. He saw the administrations of 18 United States Presidents, witnessed the rise and fall of empires, of kings, of queens, and the birth of the automobile and the television. Shortly after graduating from high school in 1928, Wes went to work in his father's gas station. Under the 50-year stewardship of Wes and his brother Andrew, what began as a small neighborhood gas station, grew into one of the largest wholesalers of bicycles and bicycle parts in New England, James A. O'Brien and Sons. Still, what endures most vividly in the legacy Wes leaves is the memory of his overpowering love for family and its absolute value in his life. Wes first met his late wife, Elsie Cassidy, in 1931 at Arthur Murray's Dance Academy. His cousin Jack had convinced him that a good way to meet girls was to learn to dance. Although he never did learn to dance, the attempt was clearly not in vain, as it precipitated his strong and loving 68-year marriage until Elsie's death in January of 2004. Wes and Elsie had four children: Carol Smith (the late Lawrence Smith), Eileen Brown (Charles), Andrea Connolly (the late Joseph Connolly), and Wesley O'Brien, Jr. (the late Deborah Ward-O'Brien). His greatest delight in life was when he was surrounded by his grandchildren: Jennifer Gargano, Jane Pieper, Christopher Connolly, Daniel Brown, Elizabeth Connolly-Martell, Rachel Kuczma, and Cassidy O'Brien. His eighth grandchild, Wesley James O'Brien III predeceased him. Twelve great-grandchildren also survive him. With the proverbial Irish twinkle in his eye, he would tease, cuddle, coach, and listen; but most of all, love them unconditionally. But stretching well beyond his immediate family, Wes' heritage includes countless children and grandchildren who are very much his by 'mutual adoption,' further proof of his undying love for all young people. Along with his family, the greatest identifier in Wes' life was his Christian faith and lifelong membership in the New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church. Commitment to his Savior was not a passive one; he held many positions in the church such as Church Elder, Sabbath School Superintendent, Youth Leader, and Sabbath School teacher. Above all, however, was his enduring love for Christian education and, specifically, Laurel Oaks Adventist School, a satellite of the New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church. During a search for a new school site, Wes and Elsie located the property in Hamden where Laurel Oaks presently sits. Upon the church's purchase of the 6-acre plot, and upon the school's establishment, a lifelong dream was realized. Wes served a 35-year stint as treasurer of the school, and often volunteered his time to read with the children there, in order that young people 'might be taught of the Lord.' To honor Wesley O'Brien, Sr., family and friends are invited to attend his funeral at the New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church, 355 Humphrey Street, New Haven, on Monday, February 10, at 11:00 a.m. with Pastor Warren Ruf officiating. Calling hours will take place on Sunday, February 9, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Beecher and Bennett Funeral Home, 2300 Whitney Avenue, Hamden. Should friends desire, contributions may be made to Laurel Oaks Adventist School, 14 West Shepard Avenue, Hamden, CT. 06514.

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  1. A titanic tower of faith and humble font of wisdom has passed and gone on to bigger and better things in a new world of peace where each man can rest under his own tree, and none shall make him afraid. His lifetime achievement award awaits him in the Kingdom, his works of compassion and faith proclaimed by all the angels of Heaven. Mr. Wesley O’Brien’s life touched all the bases: Strong father, doting grandfather, eternally devoted husband, seemingly invulnerable great-grandfather, always caring friend, wise counselor and ever faithful servant of the Lord. Till I meet him again, he has left me with many unique memories, a great example of a godly life, and a small Irish townful of descendants I am proud also to call my friends, brothers and sisters. May God keep you, Mr. O’Brien, and may His peace be on your family.

  2. A wonderful man of God and great family friend who shoes will not be filled. His wit, common sense, ready smile will be missed when attending the New Haven Church. He and Elsie were such an integral part of the church whether it be Sabbath School, church, socials-they were there always willing to lend a helping hand. He enjoyed life to the fullest and shared that with his family and friends. He outlived so many of his contemporaries in his family and church family. My earliest recollections were eating meals at their house and his boxer and then later the famous Siamese Fred. I remember my parents participating in progressive dinners. Later on after Mark and I were married the prayer meetings at his home. Mark really appreciated him taking him under his wing when he was an elder in New Haven and on the school board, Who can forget the annual Camp Winnekeag weekends, church and school picnics, boat rides, and fellowshipping together. Looking forward to that day when there will be no more partings and we can meet again in that Earth made new. Our thoughts and prayers are with each and every family member. Treasure your memories. His life is measured by both it’s donation and duration !

  3. A wonderful man of God and great family friend who shoes will not be filled. His wit, common sense, ready smile will be missed when attending the New Haven Church. He and Elsie were such an integral part of the church whether it be Sabbath School, church, socials-they were there always willing to lend a helping hand. He enjoyed life to the fullest and shared that with his family and friends. He outlived so many of his contemporaries in his family and church family. My earliest recollections were eating meals at their house and his boxer and then later the famous Siamese Fred. I remember my parents participating in progressive dinners. Later on after Mark and I were married the prayer meetings at his home. Mark really appreciated him taking him under his wing when he was an elder in New Haven and on the school board, Who can forget the annual Camp Winnekeag weekends, church and school picnics, boat rides, and fellowshipping together. Looking forward to that day when there will be no more partings and we can meet again in that Earth made new. Our thoughts and prayers are with each and every family member. Treasure your memories. His life is measured by both it’s donation and duration !

  4. My thoughts and prayers are with all of Wes’ family. How fortunate you are to have known this wonderful man and to have been able to call him family.

  5. My thoughts and prayers are with Wes’s family. This photo was taken in 1960 when my daughter Pam was dedicated at the New Haven SDA Church.

  6. So sorry to here of Wes O’Brien’s passing. I know the pain of loosing a dad and my children know the pain of loosing their grandfather. What a blessing and a pillar of the New Haven church he was. He will be missed. Even so come Lord Jesus so we can be with our loved ones again. Love to you all, Kathryn Ann Hosko Young

  7. Thoughts and prayers with family and friends at this time of sorrow. A neighbour of Mr. O’Brien’s for over 8 years, we loved meeting him on the street for his daily walks and having a chit chat with the kids. He will be greatly missed.

  8. What pleasure to have met Mr. O’Brien! He was a godly man who was a great example of what a christian should be. His legacy left behind lives on. Soon and very soon, we shall be together in a place where there is no good byes. Thoughts and prayers are with your family! – The Kulons

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