Obituary: Dorothy Catherine O’Brien

Beloved mother of 10, grandmother, great-grandmother, devout Catholic

“Dorothy Catherine O’Brien went on to join her growing family in heaven on September 24, 2023 in the peace of a cool morning, with that ever present smile,” her family shared.

Cathy “Don’t call her Dorothy, she wasn’t too fond of that name!” her family added, was born in Santa Rosa, California, on July 14, 1932 to D.J. and Dorothy, Kiely. She grew up with her older brother, Dennis and younger brother, Richard, and graduated from Notre Dame High School in San Jose, California.

While working as a switchboard operator  in the summer after her senior year, and already accepted into college, she met a young U.S. Navy man, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Eldon Sanford O’Brien, aka “Lefty.” “Not long afterwards they became engaged, and the story is that Eldon, being an only child, told Cathy, ‘I want to fill a hotel with children!’” her family said. “And so they did, and began a love affair that would last nearly 70 years, from 1950 until August 2019, when Eldon, at age 93, entered heaven.

“During those amazing years, they were blessed with 10 children, five boys, five girls, 25 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, and counting! The O’Brien clan were regulars at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, usually at the 9:30 a.m. Mass, taking up two pews.”

Over 16 years she gave birth to and is survived by 10 children: Jim, Tim, Mary, Margie, Therese, Sharon, Mike, Pat, Tom, and Beth. “The girls were all given the first name of Mary, due to mom‘s devotion to the blessed mother,” her family shared. They were born in Eureka and Los Gatos, California, and Claremont, where they grew up beginning in 1966. After her husband’s retirement, the couple moved to Lake Arrowhead where the family had kept a vacation house over the years, and eventually to Upland.

“Mom was deeply religious in her Catholic faith, and it was a huge part of who she was,” her children said. “She was also deeply human, she loved her family and friends with patience, kindness, devotion, and yes, as you can imagine with 10 kids, exhaustion! But there was always time for a trip to the beach, dropping us off and picking us up from our sporting and other events, always there to talk and to just be an amazing mom.

“Of course, we miss you terribly mom, but we know you’re up there, dancing with dad, goofing off with your brothers, and finally in the resting place you always knew was there waiting for you. We will always love you and hope to carry on the spirit of your legendary life.”

A rosary will take place at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, October 12 at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 435 N. Berkeley Ave., Claremont, CA 91711, followed by a funeral Mass at 11. Burial is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery, 3510 E. Washington St., Colton, CA 92324.

In lieu of flowers, she requested that gifts be made to Mary’s Mercy Center at, or by check to 641 Roberds Ave. N., San Bernardino, CA 92411.


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