We lost Daniel James O’Brien, 58, of Counce, on Saturday, March 4, to a three-year battle with a rare form of cancer. Dan died at home surrounded by loving family. Despite the physical ravages of his disease, Dan’s sense of self never left him, and he was making connections with loved ones until his last moments.
Dan is survived by two adult sons, Trevor and Jake, loving stepmom Pamela Anderson, siblings Kathleen Valerio, Jennifer McCormick and Christopher O’Brien, many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and dear friends.
His parents, James William O’Brien and Judith Mae O’Brien and siblings, Michael O’Brien and Sharon Pickering, all preceded him in death.
An accomplished mechanical engineer, Dan worked on the Saturn Rocket Program, the Bell 609 Tilt Rotor program and a number of other complex aeronautical and aerospace projects. His most recent employer was Bowhead LLC in Huntsville, Alabama.
A master in his field, he possessed the intellect and expertise to excel as a leader, innovator, and problem solver, always driven by an immeasurable work ethic. He was an enormous asset to those he worked with, and was known for his history of turning troubled projects around, setting them on the path to success.
While fully dedicated to his career, his greatest goal in life was to build a strong family. Even early in his adult life he made constant mention of it. An avid outdoorsman and handyman, Dan loved boating, fishing, riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle and spending time with his sons. The boys grew up admiring Dan’s impressive physique, exceptional intelligence, and integrity, proud that he radiated strength and comfort to all those around him.
As we learn more about what he meant to others this past week or so, our sense of loss has grown. Dan’s steadfast moral compass never wavered even the tiniest degree, which at times could be frustrating, but now clarifies for us what an uncommon man we have lost.
We lost him too soon and will carry him with us in all that we do.
At Dan’s request, there will be no public service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the University of Tennessee West Institute for Cancer Research or another cancer research organization that is leading the effort for targeted therapies.