Thomas C. O’Brien, Jr.
March 14, 1925-November 9, 2023
Resident of San Leandro, CA
Thomas Cyril O’Brien, Jr., a 70-year resident of San Leandro, passed away peacefully on Thursday, November 9, 2023, with family at his side and the lovely pipes of “Danny Boy” filling the room. He was 98 years old.
A proud third-generation Oaklander with strong Irish roots, Tom grew up in East Oakland with his parents Thomas C. O’Brien, Sr., and Helen Loretta Rowe O’Brien, and his five sisters, whom he adored. He was always eager to share memories of playing on the Bella Vista Park sports courts, taking the Red Train everywhere and spending time with his siblings at Granny O’Brien’s West Oakland home, where he could see Alcatraz Island from the kitchen window.
Tom served honorably in the Naval Armed Guard during World War II. Enlisting at age 17, he was assigned to protect Liberty ships that sailed in the Pacific to transport everything needed by the Allies, including tanks, ammunition, fuel, food, troops -- even an occasional farm animal, according to Tom. In 2018, he felt privileged to join other veterans on an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. with his grandson Danny.
Tom joined the Oakland Fire Department in 1948 and enjoyed a 29-year career there at a variety of stations, and then as a City fire inspector. He knew his way around Oakland like nobody else, and even in his 90s could provide explicit directions to any location in town.
He met his loving wife Dolores Foster on a blind date arranged by his sister Janie. They married in 1953 and together raised five children in their home of 70 years in Washington Manor, San Leandro, where they hosted numerous large gatherings of family, friends and neighbors to celebrate holidays, babies, birthdays, communions, graduations and marriages. No one missed those parties!
Watching his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow brought Tom great joy. Attending their games, plays, honors events, and career and educational milestones were some of the proudest moments of his life.
A founding member of St. Felicitas Church, Tom served on a number of parish committees and councils, and was a past president of the St. Felicitas Men’s Club, a Eucharistic minister, and a volunteer with the parish Boy Scout troop. He loved helping run the church’s fall festivals and performing in parish musicals with his wife, family and friends.
Tom was a member and leader over the years of the Young Men’s Institute Council #8, and a past member of the Knights of Columbus. After retirement, he joined and served in leadership roles with SIR branch #26, and cherished the bonds he made with his fellow SIRs. He and Dolores were members of the Christian Family Movement. Strong friendships with the families of their CFM group have been life-long.
Tom loved to golf. His trophy for winning an Oakland Chamber of Commerce hole-in-one contest in the early ‘50s sat in a special spot in his home office. As a member of the “The Swingers” Golf Club for a number of years, he enjoyed lively comradery with his fellow golfers. His stories of rounds, hole-by-hole, were quite unforgettable.
Tom also loved to cook, bake, garden, and build or dream about building anything. He cheered on the Oakland Raiders, 49ers, Warriors and As, and was a voracious reader and inexhaustible storyteller. He claimed that between his stint in the Navy and his travels with Dolores, he had visited 43 countries around the world, including Ireland, where he kissed the Blarney Stone. But frequent trips to Lake Tahoe with Dolores, their children and their friends, during their 70-year marriage, were highlights of their travels.
Tom is survived by his wife, Dolores; children Kathy Mirtallo (Mick), Diane Musumeci (Mike), Patrick O’Brien (Rebecca), Tom O’Brien (Jan) and Kevin O’Brien (Laura); grandchildren Michael (Chrissy), Gina, Sarah (Marcus), Ryan, Rachel (Paul), Daniel (Olivia) and Katie; great-grandchildren Liam, River and Ramona; sisters Janie and Theresa; and a multitude of loving nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents Thomas and Helen, and his sisters Helen, Bernice and Margie.
Tom was dearly loved, and will be missed by all!
A funeral mass will be held on Monday, November 20, 2023, 11:00 a.m., St. Felicitas Church, 1662 Manor Blvd., San Leandro, CA. There will be a viewing at the church from 10:00-10:45 a.m., prior to the mass. A graveside service will take place on Tuesday, November 21, 10:00 a.m., at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 26320 Mission Blvd., Hayward, CA.
In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to St. Anne Village, a nonprofit offering programs and respite to seniors with cognitive issues, and their families: https://www.stannevillage.com/. St. Anne Village, P.O. Box 374, Byron, CA 94514.