July 15, 2020
James William “Jim” O’Brien, 78, of Ocean View, Del., passed away peacefully in Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
Born in Washington, D.C., on April 4, 1942, Jim was the son of William A. and Agnes (Johnson) O’Brien. Jim grew up in D.C., graduating from Archbishop Carroll High School in 1960. He was a proud alumnus of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., Class of 1964.
Jim was the father of three grown children, Maura Ammenheuser (David), of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.; Thomas O’Brien (Cindy), of Baldwin Harbor, N.Y.; and Kevin O’Brien (Rachelle), of Hummelstown, Pa.; and the gleeful grandfather of six. He was the widower of Mary Ann (Furey) O’Brien. They were married 46 years and raised their family on Long Island before moving to Charlotte, N.C., in 1991. Jim moved to Ocean View in 2014, after Mary Ann’s death.
Jim’s early career was spent in the engine rooms of cargo ships traveling the world. Though he spent most of his life working land-based jobs, he never lost his love for all manner of boats and ships, earning the nickname “Capt. Jim.” He was happiest in or near the water, perhaps even more satisfied commanding sailboats or a two-person Sunfish than helping crew an international container vessel.
Jim earned a master’s degree in industrial and management engineering from Columbia University in 1968. He was an industrial engineer who worked for many years for JCPenney, and later for Baker & Taylor, among other employers, first in New York City and later in Charlotte.
He liked to travel, especially to beach towns in summer and ski resorts in winter. Jim was an avid downhill skier for most of his life, and took solo ski trips to Colorado on multiple occasions in his later years.
Jim nurtured a lifelong love of model trains. He kept up this hobby during retirement, volunteering with the North Carolina Transportation Museum, and later became a member of the Delaware SeaSide Railroad Club. He was also active in the Knights of Columbus, both in Charlotte and in the council at the Church of St. Ann, in Bethany Beach, Del.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; and his beloved in-laws, Edmund A. and Marguerite I. (Francis) Furey, of Hampton Bays, N.Y. He is survived by his children; grandchildren; brother, William H. O’Brien (Linda), of Shepherdstown W.Va.; sister- and brother-in-law Ellen and James Ryan, of Brewster, N.Y.; sister-in-law Nancy Pepe, of Annapolis, Md.; four nieces; one nephew; many cousins; and the children of his cousins and nieces, several of whom viewed him as a fun-loving additional grandparent.
A funeral Mass will be held Thursday, July 23, at 3 p.m., at Church of St. Ann, 691 Garfield Pkwy., Bethany Beach DE, 19930. Visitation will be held at 2 p.m., at Church of St. Ann, prior to the Mass. Interment will be in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Dagsboro, Del. Hoover Funeral Homes & Crematory, in Hershey, Pa., handled cremation arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the online guest book at www.hooverfuneralhome.com
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorial contributions be made to Parkinson’s Foundation; or to the Knights of Columbus, St. Ann’s council #16771, PO Box 654, Bethany Beach, DE 10930.
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