Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

Lucky lamp?  Not so much.

It's been another hard week, folks.

Bill O'Brien, a dear family friend and co-worker passed away last Saturday evening at 87 years old.

You'd never find a more dedicated, honest, and hard-working employee (Yes, he was still working full-time at 87).  Bill was hired in 1946 (66 years ago!) by my great grandfather, shortly after the close of WWII in which he served as a navy seaman.  

Since that day, he's worked 6 or 7 full days a week and took only 3 weeks vacation in total, each taken after heart attacks (he actually returned to work the day after the last of his 4 heart attacks).  He'd also show up several hours early almost every single day (frequently as early as 3AM).  I certainly couldn't imagine working hours like that (especially at 87), and we often told him not to, but he did it of his own accord.

Those long hours must have kept him in good shape, because he had a quicker mind and a sharper with than anyone I knew.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that he was some kind of savant.  The man could think up jokes or recall trivia and statistics like nobody's business.  He even stayed physically fit and tough-as-nails into his 80's by walking miles every day through the mean streets of East St. Louis.  Most sane people wouldn't even drive near some of the neighborhoods he passed through.

Bill never married or had any children, but he knew and was loved by everyone.  He was trusting, helpful, and kind to a fault.  While he would never spend any money on himself (quite literally, as all of his possessions were free and he lived off canned food in a tiny apartment) he lavished gifts and money on his friends and charities.

He didn't want a funeral, but we did manage to get Bill, the proud Irishman, a green casket for his burial at the local veterans cemetery.  He'd have loved it.

So it looks like Bill finally took his well-earned retirement.  Unfortunately, the man was also quite the hoarder, and we've got A LOT to clean up and I'll have to completely reorganize and update his position.  Bill never trusted technology and did everything the old-fashioned way using ledger paper, adding machines, stamps, and typewriters even to this day.

This office will never be the same.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds as if your friend lived life on his own terms, and there is much to be admired in that.

    1. He certainly did. We called him "eccentric", but I think that most would have said he was nuts lol. I couldn't imagine working 60-80 hours weeks into my late 80's, but he just enjoyed doing it and there was nothing we could do to stop him. As you might have guessed, he was a bit stubborn.

  2. I'm so sorry for the loss. I second Dana's comment that it seems he lived his life on his own terms and that is admirable. May he rest in peace.