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Eric O'Brien

Eric W O'Brien

Thursday, January 7th, 2021
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Obituary

Eric Worthington O’Brien of Medfield, MA., Mattapoisett, MA and Norfolk, MA died on January7, 2021, peacefully with family by his side, after complications with pneumonia. He was 81. Eric is survived by his wife of almost 54 years, Claudette Prefontaine O’Brien; his five children, Erin M. O’Brien, Kerry A. Durkin, Colleen L. O’Brien, Meghan A. Taylor and Peter T.C. O’Brien; his brother, Kevin Bryan and nine grandchildren: Ryan, Alison, Mikayla, Mara, Julia, Will, Ella, Dylan and Warren. Eric was the son of Maurice O’Brien and Laura Cunningham O’Brien. He attended Newton High School, then went on to Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT. Upon graduation in 1961, Eric entered the United States Navy where he was a Lieutenant, serving on the USS Hank, USS Roberts and USS Huse. Upon exiting the Navy in 1965, Eric began his career as a sales representative for M.E. O’Brien and Sons, Inc., a family business. In 1983 he became the company’s owner and President working tirelessly to grow the business. M.E. O’Brien and Sons is dedicated to assisting municipalities, developers and private corporations to design and build public spaces and urban landscapes. Eric’s vision was to offer clients everything they needed to complete their recreation space.

Not only did he continue to build a thriving family business, but also worked toward the advancement of public parks. Eric passionately volunteered countless hours promoting and developing parks and recreation at local, regional and national levels starting with his involvement with the Town of Medfield, Massachusetts’ Parks and Recreation Department (1973-1978, 1990-1991), the Downtown Study Commission and Open Space and Recreation Planning Committee(2013-2014).He also served as Medfield’s Cemetery Commissioner where his priority was to plant trees all over Vine lake Cemetery to create a park-like setting. At the statewide (Massachusetts) level he served on the Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on Land Protection (1998)and the Olmsted Parks State Advisory Board (1980-1990). Eric started his involvement with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)in 1985. His various roles were member of the board of trustees (1985-1994), chair of the board of trustees (1995-1999), member of the national forum (2003-2008), and member of the strategic planning committee (2004). Eric was on the board of governors for the National Recreation and Park Foundation (NRPF) to support research, public policy, and public awareness efforts to advance parks, recreation, and environmental conservation (2006-2012). He served on the board of the Foundation for Sustainable Parks and Recreation created in 2012 and later served as the foundation’s chair until 2017.Eric served as trustee on the board of advisors for the National Association of Olmsted Parks(1984-1990), on the City Park Alliance Board of Directors (2006-2009), and as a world judge and corporate director for Nations in Bloom, Ltd.(1996-2003).Eric also served as a steering committee member for Clemson University’s U.S. Play Coalition(2007-2015)and was on the board of directors for the Sajai Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children about healthy lifestyle and nutrition decisions(2007-2010). His activism led to many awards and recognitions including the 1992 New England Regional Council Award, 1998 New England Park and Recreation Association John F. Howard Award, 1998 Rhode Island Recreation and Park Association John Cronin Award, 2005 American Park and Recreation Society Citizen’s Award, 2007New England Park Association Award, 2009Rhode Island Recreation and Park Association Hall of Fame, 2012 Connecticut Park and Recreation Association

Distinguished Service Award, 2013 Connecticut Park and Recreation Hall of Fame Inductee, 2014 National Recreation and Park Association Cornelius Amory Pugsley Award, and the 2015 New England Park Association President’s Award. He also served as editor of the New England Park Association’s quarterly newsletter, The Exchange, for many years. Eric was a true gentleman who enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. He loved playing golf, boating and reading. He was a faithful member of the Medfield Lions Club and for many years was a member of the MEMO business organization in Medfield. At this time, the family will have private services. Memorial Services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the U.S. Play Coalition’s Fran P. Mainella Play Conference Scholarship Fund. Tax-deductible donations can be made online at www.bit.ly/Give-Playor send checks payable to “US Play Coalition” to Stephanie Garst, US Play Coalition, 263 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0735
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Service Details

  • Service

    Location
    Private
    Address
    N/A
    MEDFIELD, MA
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Officiant
    Rev. Fr. Steven Zukas
  • Interment

    Location
    Private
    Address
    N/A
    MEDFIELD, MA
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

Condolences

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Private Condolence
SP

Steve Papsis

Posted at 08:26pm
I'm so saddened to learn of the loss of Eric. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire O'Brien family. Growing up in Medfield I often saw Mr. O’Brien. He alway had a smile and a kind word, he taught me so much about being a caring person and know my life is so much richer for having known him. God Bless you all and keep you safe.
EB

ed and kathy butler

Posted at 08:55pm
Claudette,
Kathy and I are so sorry to hear of Erick's passing.He was a wonderful man and friend to many. We will remember the many happy memories of the time we shared with you and Erick. We have memories of the many fishing trips, golf outings and parties that we shared with Erick. We especially remember the many unannounced visits by Erick that were always fun. He was kind and generous to us and he will be remembered as a good friend. The Point will never be the same. He was very lucky to have you as his life long partner and his best friend. He was especially fortunate to have you at his side during the last years. Please include us in any memorial that you plan in the future. God bless you . We know you will receive comfort from you beautiful family during these sad times.
LF

Loretta Porter Fahey

Posted at 07:33pm
Claudette and all of the wonderful O'Brien children (now adults) that I had the opportunity to teach, when you went to school here in Medfield. I remember your husband and father, Eric very fondly- for there was never an athletic event here in town, where one of you was playing- that he was not in the stands or on the sidelines- smiling his big broad smile. He was always so proud of all of you- and his love of family shone through every time I spoke to him.
It is my wish that in the days ahead you call upon that sense of family that you all share- and heal together.
Mrs. Loretta Porter-Fahey
MG

Michael and Michelle Gaughran

Posted at 10:04am
I'm so saddened to learn of the loss of Eric. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire O'Brien family. Eric was a true gentlemen with a remarkable dedication to his family and friends. I feel blessed to have known him and I've always appreciated his sense of humor, his work ethic, and his giving back to the community. I'm so sorry for your terrible loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you all as you go thru this very difficult time.

Michael and Michelle Gaughran
HP

Harold Pritoni

Posted at 07:18pm
Claudette and family, my wife Nancy and I send our most sincere condolences for the loss of your beloved Eric. I must say that I always broke out in a smile if and when I saw him coming. A good man, a great man a good friend. We will all miss him very much.
I'd like to share my most vivid memory of him and I sincerely hope that it brings a smile to your face and you say: " Yup, that's him".
I don't remember what year it was, somewhere between 1988 and 1994 when I was a member of the Medfield Board of Selectmen, and we were discussing departmental budgets at a meeting. At one point the door to our meeting room from the front steps opened and in walked a tall character in a hooded robe of sorts, carrying a huge sythe! It didn't take too long for us to figure out who it was and that he was there to discuss the cemetery budget! It was impossible to preserve decorum! I think we gave him what he wanted! Still laugh when I think about it! Harry and Nancy Pritoni
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