Eileen Mary O'Brien

March 26, 1947November 4, 2012

Eileen Mary (Bonnie) O’Brien, age 65, passed away on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at her home in Lexington, GA with her mother and her sister, Michelle, at her side. Bonnie was born on March 26, 1947 in New York, NY to Eleanor and James O’Brien. She spent her childhood in Portugal before the family moved to Lima, Peru in 1960. She attended The American School of Lima, where she was voted the most beautiful girl in her graduating class in 1964. After high school Bonnie attended secretarial school in Lima before moving to New York City to pursue a career. In the mid-1970s, she moved to West Stockbridge, MA, where she was involved in the restoration of that historic town. While in western Massachusetts, Bonnie attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After graduating in 1978 with a BA in anthropology, Bonnie moved to Athens where she received her master’s degree in geography from the University of Georgia in 1982. Upon completion of her MA, she carried out anthropological field work on early hominids and their diet in East Africa. Bonnie received her PhD in geography from St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, England, in 1991. Her dissertation entitled “Climate and Woody Plant Species Richness: Analyses Based upon Southern Africa’s Native Flora with Extrapolations of Sub-Saharan Africa” was a ground-breaking study of the natural factors affecting the geographical distribution of indigenous plant species in Africa. Based on her research in Africa, Bonnie published numerous scientific papers and books dealing with the native flora of that continent. She held a tenure-track faculty position in the Department of Geology at Georgia State University, was a visiting professor at the University of Wales, and taught for several years at Piedmont College in Athens. Bonnie is survived by her mother, Paulette Micheline O’Brien; sister, Michelle O’Brien and her husband, Jean-Louis Vivert-Guigue, and their daughter, Juliet; sister, Jacqueline Galusha and her husband James; and sister-in-law Sylvia O’Brien and her children Paul, John, Joseph, Teresa, Mary, Nathaniel, and Stephen and their families. She was preceded in death by her father, James Joseph O’Brien; her birth mother, Eleanor O’Brien; and her younger brother James Thomas O’Brien. Bonnie will be remembered with love by her family, her friends in Athens, and especially the Tertulia Group. Friends are invited to celebrate Bonnie on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 from 5-7 pm at the home of David and Carolyn Hally. Reminiscences will be shared at 6 pm. Online condolences may be offered at Bernstein Funeral Home and Cremation Service is in charge of arrangements.


  • Memorial Service Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eileen Mary O'Brien

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Lisa Chawla

November 26, 2012

Bonnie was practically like family to me-I had known her for many years.
I will miss her a great deal as she was a wonderful friend.

November 8, 2012

To the O'Brien family and friends, please accept my sympathy on the loss of your dear love one 1 Corinthians 15:22.

Bernstein Funeral Home

November 8, 2012

Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.