OBITUARY

Barbara Williams O'Brien

April 10, 1933April 28, 2021
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Barbara Williams O’Brien died on April 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

We share these facts and reminiscences, but words are insufficient to capture the love and joy that Barbara brought to those who knew her.

Barbara was born in 1933 in Cleveland, Ohio to Walter Howard and Edna Fitzsimmons Williams. She grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio where she was educated at the Laurel School, and she graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe College where she met her husband, Kevin Sheridan O’Brien. Barbara and Kevin married in 1954 and lived in many places over the following years because of her husband’s Navy service and his professional life. Their homes included Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, New York and Paris. After living in France for five years, they moved in 1964 to Ridgewood, New Jersey. It was in Ridgewood that they lived out the happiest years of Barbara’s life.

During her 51 years in Ridgewood Barbara was very active in the community. Early on, she was director of the girls’ softball league, and was involved in local music theater productions in which, because of her lovely singing voice, Barbara was almost always the lead role. She later became a leader of song at Mt. Carmel Church and was an early member of the parish council. Later, she was a founding member and President of the Ridgewood Wildscape Association, an organization devoted to preserving environmentally significant locations in the Ridgewood area. She was also a longtime and very active member of The Ridgewood League of Women Voters, serving for several years as President.

But Barbara’s primary focus was on her family. She was the perfect mother and wife. She had an indescribably deep love for her children -- Deirdre, Michael, Clare, Katherine, and Sean -- and for her husband Kevin, a love that was returned in full. She created a home where laughter, love of learning and language, and animated Sunday and holiday dinner discussions abounded. Her love and joy of life were infectious and she filled the house with sunlight.

People gravitated toward Barbara because of her wit, creativity, special intelligence, caring spirit and sense of fun. She was all of these things, but also had a serious nature that made her a great giver of advice and a thoughtful leader. With all of these qualities, Barbara made lifelong friends from school, when living abroad, through organizations, through tennis and with those in her beloved book club.

Barbara was predeceased by her sisters Lois Williams and Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Johnson. She is survived by her husband, Kevin, her children, Deirdre Phelan, Michael and Roxanne O’Brien, Clare O’Brien and Nancy Walsh, Katherine and Robert Caravello, and Sean O’Brien and Rebecca Stead.

She is also survived by her cherished grandchildren, Kevin Phelan; Brendan, Aidan and Conor O’Brien; Michael, Christopher and Brian Caravello; and Jack and Eli O’Brien, as well as many beloved nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Habitat for Humanity or Laurel School, Shaker Heights, OH at:

Laurel School, 1 Lyman Circle, Shaker Heights, OH 44122

Services

  • Public Visitation

    Monday, May 3, 2021

  • Visitation

    Monday, May 3, 2021

  • Vigil Service

    Monday, May 3, 2021

  • Funeral Mass

    Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Memories

Barbara Williams O'Brien

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Jan Philips

May 4, 2021

Dear Kevin,
The Board of Trustees and Ridgecrest residents hold you in the Light as you morn the death of your beloved Barbara. Her smile, her love for you and family and her gentleness are cherished memories.

Love & Peace,
Jan Philips

Linda McNamara

May 1, 2021

So many wonderful memories of Barbara but I was her VP in the LWV of Ridgewood for some of the years she was president. She was so competent, smart and had a terrific sense of humor. She was so kind as well. Once at a council meeting in town she some how conveyed that my sweater needed to be pulled down in the back so that I was not exposing myself ! I was so grateful and we had a good laugh about it later. To her many friends and family I offer my deepest condolences and sympathy. Most sincerely, Linda McNamara🙏🏼🙏🏼

Anthony and Rosemarie Fischer

May 1, 2021

Our deepest sympathy to you,Kevin, and to your children and grandchildren on the loss of your beloved Barbara. Our hearts go out to you, and our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Tony and Rosemarie Fischer

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