Robert Emmett “Bo” O’Brien
The son of the late Gerald and Rose O’Brien, formerly of Park Ridge, Illinois, crossed the finish line of his life on the afternoon of August 4, 2017. He was surrounded by the caring staff of South Miami Hospital and his daughter, Kimberly. Robert or “Bo” as his friends and family called him attended Maine Township High School, where he excelled in all sports. He was most remembered for his Track and Field exploits where he excelled as a sprinter and as a captain of several relay teams. He even was a celebrated Duncan Yo-yo champion in his youth. Bo was honored in the 1990’s when his high school Maine Township retired his number and inducted him into the Hall of Fame to honor his three high school state championship medals. Bo excelled in the 100 yard and the 200 yard dash and the 880 yard relay. Discussions at the dinner table still exist today about who was the best athlete in the family - Bo, George, or Bill who were all gifted athletes. Bo continued his running career at Indiana University and University of Miami where he graduated. Bo and George were celebrated teammates at U of M and they were often cited in the local newspapers. Bo never gave up his love for running and was a competitive race walker well into his 80’s, when he was forced to retire when he had outlived his competition.
He came to Coral Gables with his parents in the 1940s, after they discovered the beauty of South Florida. They considered South Florida an enchanted paradise. Bo and his family were some of the original pioneers of a new development area called Cutler Ridge, now known as Cutler Bay. Bo, his wife Joyce, and children Steven, Kimberly and Kristy spent many weekends enjoying Matheson Hammock and always looked forward to Friday nights at the Dixie Drive-In movie theater during their youth. Bo was a veteran of both the US Navy and the US Air Force. His favorite assignment was Key West, Florida, where his only son was born in 1954.
Bo will always be remembered for his dogged optimism in the face of any of life’s challenges and was a successful and charismatic salesman who could talk to anyone. Bo was the last of the “Tough Guys” a true representative of the “Greatest Generation.” He was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1929 as a twin. Later his twin sister, Rosemary, passed away at a very young age. He and his parents were introduced to south Florida after WWII when his two older brothers, also twins, George and Bill trained for deployment in the Pacific Theater with the Army Air Corp. The O’Brien clan absolutely fell in love with Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables in particular. One of the great mysteries to his family and friends was that Robert was THE most faithful Notre Dame Football fan you could ever meet, yet he declined a scholarship to run for the fighting Irish because Indiana had “a better track team.”
It is not a mystery; however, that family was the most important thing to him. His youngest daughter, Kristy, remembers many conversations in which he expressed his gratitude that the family “always stuck together.” Never was this more evident than when he steadfastly remained by his wife’s side while she fought the battle of her life with lung cancer and when he rebuilt his severely damage home from the wake of hurricane Andrew in 1992. He cherished his daughter-in-law, Candace “Candy” and he adored his only grandchild, Cassidy Anne. “Pop Pop” lit up while watching her in Irish dance competitions around the country. Bo deeply loved his extended family of sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews and always stayed in close touch with them. He was a member of the American Cancer Society and was the spiritual Patriarch of his son’s ACS Relay for Life kayak team “Castaways Against Cancer.”
He will be remembered fondly for his optimism, stubbornness and Fighting Irish spirit.
We love you, Pops!!!
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to www.castawaysagainstcancer.com