C. William O'Brien
June 10, 1936 – April 19, 2021
C. William “Bill” O’Brien, age 84, of La Salle, Colorado, passed away at his home surrounded in love on Monday, April 19, 2021. Bill was born on June 10, 1936, in Nebraska, to John J. and Kathryn V. (Sullivan) O’Brien.
In his youth, Bill was an Eagle Scout and gifted athlete. Bill attended McCook High School where he was an exceptional three sport athlete. After his graduation in 1954, he went on to become an All American footballer, standout basketball player and track and field athlete at McCook Junior College in Nebraska. He also played basketball at the University of Nebraska, before completing his degree in 1961 at Colorado State College (now known as the University of Northern Colorado). While his accomplishments were many, few people knew about them because Bill was a very humble man.
It took a special woman, Patricia Lou Rolfs, to win his heart. The couple met in college physiology class when she was 18 and he was 20. Both were in relationships at the time, but Patti wooed him with the remains from a turtle dissection assignment. She polished the leftover shell and gave it to him as an ashtray. He must have liked the gift because the couple married on September 6,1958 in Elkhorn, Nebraska and stayed together for the next 63 years.
Together, they had Patrick, who died at childbirth, Michael, Michelle, Melissa, and Michaela. Bill and Patti lived in Greeley, Platteville, and in the country west of Gilcrest before spending most of their years in their dream home located on a large lot in La Salle, where they raised their kids. Bill passed down his love of sports to his children, and as a family, they would take road trips to the Colorado mountains, South Dakota and Nebraska.
Professionally, Bill was a psychology and business teacher at Valley High School in Gilcrest for 32 years, after teaching his first year in Nebraska. He was usually seen carrying around the same stainless steel thermos full of black coffee, walking so fast that others had to jog to keep up with him. Whenever he had to correct a student, he did so with encouraging words and a warm smile. (Bill greeted everyone with a smile.) At Valley, he was the head basketball coach for 5 years and was an assistant coach for the basketball, football, and baseball teams for 20 years. Natural fair-mindedness made him the right fit for the job. He also ran the migrant school P.E. program and the Platteville recreation program for a few years and drove the school bus for 31 years.
Retirement did not slow Bill down. He could be spotted riding on the back of the trash truck to help the garbagemen out each week, just because. Bill was a fierce crossword puzzler and newspaper reader, and he enjoyed Ellery Queen, James A. Michener, John Grisham, and Louis L'Amour novels. Grandkids, chasing down foul balls at the ball fields, picking up trash around the neighborhood, or handing out Tootsie Rolls at sporting events also filled his days.
Bill was a board member of McCook National Bank Financial Services and was also a member of the Colorado Education Association, Colorado High School Coaches Association, the Denver Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, and the Red Feather Fire Association. He was honored by the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports, and was a proud blood donor.
Bill will be remembered as a gracious and humble man with silent strength that led by example. He never complained and never criticized. Family was the most important thing to Bill. Helping others filled his heart and his life’s motto was, “Just enjoy every day.”
Bill is survived by his wife Patti O’Brien; son Michael (Rebecca) O’Brien; daughters Michelle (Paul) Chacon, Melissa (David) Eckhardt, and Michaela (David) Smith; grandchildren Jamie O’Brien (Zach Belloni), Jessie O’Brien, Courtney Chacon, Brendan Chacon, Devin (Colten) Foster, Brynn (Austin) Brunz, Delaney Eckhardt, Chelsea Smith, Samantha Smith, Madison (Mason) Richardson, Alisha Gallegos, and Tommy Gallegos; great-granddaughters Willow Smith, Charlie Foster, Collins Foster, and Eden Gallegos; great-grandson Sebastian Gallegos; and Baby Brunz arriving in September 2021; former daughter-in-law Denise O’Brien; brother-in-law Allan Rolfs; numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews and his McCook National Bank Family.
He is preceded in death by his parents John and Kathryn (Sullivan) O’Brien; son Charles Patrick O’Brien; aunt Helen McCluskey; sisters-in-law Bonnie Rolfs and Marcia Rolfs; brother-in-law Delmar Rolfs; and by his dear cousin Dr. Robert Behrns.
Visitation will be held at Allnutt Funeral & Cremation - Macy on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Mass of Christian burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 29, 2021, at St. Peter Catholic Church.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Bill O’Brien Memorial in the care of Allnutt Funeral Service, Macy Chapel, 6521 W. 20th Street, Greeley, CO, 80634. The funds will be gifted to Valley High School Athletics and St. Patrick School in McCook.
Link o the Livestream at St. Peter Catholic Church: https://youtu.be/elGHY-JFGhk
- Paul Chacon, Pallbearer
- David Eckhardt, Pallbearer
- David Smith, Pallbearer
- Colten Foster, Pallbearer
- Austin Brunz, Pallbearer
- Mason Richardson, Pallbearer
- Brendan Chacon, Pallbearer
- Zach Belloni, Pallbearer
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Mass of Christian Burial
Thursday, April 29, 2021
C. William O'Brien
Frances Natividad Coleman
May 1, 2021
Our Valley High Class of 1964 absolutely loved Mr. Bill O'Brien
He joined us in 2014 for our 50th VHS Class reunion and then subsequently at one more gathering. Each time Bill was so delighted to spend time with all of us and reminisce. My favorite memory of him was when I was 15, I took Drivers Ed and he was our teacher. We had three girls in the backseat and Mr. O' Brien rode shotgun while I got behind the wheel. He instructed me to drive out of the Valley High school yard at the time in Platteville and then south on to Highway 85 to Fort Lupton. As we approached Fort Lupton he asked to see my drivers permit and I replied, "What permit?" Immediately he had me pull over to the shoulder and that was the end of my drivers lesson! I still remember how calm he was about the whole thing!!! LOL
Rest In Peace Bill and our deepest condolences to Pat and all the family. He as was a very special person. God Bless.
April 30, 2021
My deepest condolences to the entire O'Brien family. Thank you Mr. O'Brien for teaching the students how to be grateful and humble. Forever in our hearts and memories. Jeff Prouty
April 30, 2021
Bill was a hero of mine. Humble and unselfish. He made a real difference in the lives of so many. A true and loyal friend. I remember him often and I'm grateful and honored to have coached and worked with him.
April 29, 2021
So sorry to hear about Mr.Obrien.He was the best,teacher and friend.I learned a lot from him.He will be greatly missed.
Dale Shutt class of 1981.
April 29, 2021
I have several fond memories of Bill. First, that he was cheerful and kind in the midst of his medical issues. I can't remember him ever complaining when he wasn't feeling well. (He may have saved that for his family :), or maybe not) He was always interested in me, and would sincerely ask, "How are you doing?" And I thought he was like the Energizer bunny... he kept on ticking long after the batteries should have run out.
In the hope that's God's glory shines on him now.
April 28, 2021
Some of my most cherished childhood memories are from our family vacations traveling to Colorado to see our O’Brien cousins. Uncle Bill and Aunt Patti were so welcoming and made us feel so at home. I remember uncle Bill‘s kindness and genuine care and concern for me and my well being which put me at ease and made me feel comfortable. I have always admired his relationship he has with his kids and grands. He is deeply loved and will be missed. Rest in heaven Uncle Bill!
April 28, 2021
We've all lost a great man. Everyone's favorite teacher, coach, and friend. He was kind, fair, caring, humble, generous and a most positive person. Whenever and wherever I ran into him, I would say "hello Mr. O'brien" and his response was always, "Bill, call me Bill". I will always respect your memory. RIP, Bill my dear friend!
April 26, 2021
The Herren family was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Bill. We were honored to be part of the O'Brien's lives living in Platteville. Bill was always kind to our family and we have wonderful memories of him not only in Platteville but also Valley High School. He will forever be in our hearts.
The Herren Family.
April 25, 2021
Mr O’Brien was genuinely kind. I thought I posted this earlier
April 25, 2021
Pat and family. Mr. O'Brien was such a great man .I had him as a teacher when I was in high school, that was the year Michaela was born .Over the years no matter where Jake and I would see him (mostly V-B games) he would stop and visit. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Pam Rudiger and family
April 22, 2021
We were very sad to learn of Mr. O'Brien's passing. At Valley High School he was one of my favorite teachers. I am sure that hundreds of Valley Vikings felt the same way - he was beloved.
My mother, Irma Cogburn, also extends her condolences to your family and has fond memories of working with Pat at the Post Office. Your family is special in the community.
Our deepest sympathies.
Kathy Cogburn Escamilla and Family and Irma Cogburn
Mary Lou Schissler
April 21, 2021
Pat and family, so sorry to hear that Bill has passed away. He was such a great man and a pillar of our community. Let your faith in God and all the good memories and friends sustain you during this time of mourning. ❤️❤️🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
Gary and Mary Lou Schissler
Tim and JoDell Rolfs
April 20, 2021
We are sorry to hear about the passing of Uncle Bill. I will remember Uncle Bill as a man of few words who listened and connected with people. Bill was humble and could immediately put you at ease with his supportive warm smile and big heart; or gain your respect with a friendly pinch of your trapezius muscle and glimmer in his eye. A loyal person who cared deeply about his family and the students he taught. Our thoughts and prayers are with Aunt Patti and family.