JIM O'BRIEN: Beloved college professor passes away

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Jim O'Brien

CORNWALL, Ontario - A beloved Cornwall college professor is being mourned this week.

Jim O'Brien, a math and computer professor that was one of the original educators at St. Lawrence College in Cornwall, passed away Friday.

He was 73.

Colleagues and students are mourning a man who left an indelible mark on all of those around him.

"He was a friend to everyone and a mentor to students," said Deborah MacKay, associated dean at the college's Cornwall campus. "He gave of himself constantly."

O'Brien, with his trademark silver-white hair, was a fixture at the college dating back to 1968 when the facility opened. He retired this past June, after 44 years.

MacKay said O'Brien's passion for teaching knew no limits.

"I can remember lineups of students outside his office, with people looking to talk to him about classes, or about things in general," she said. "He held court."

O'Brien was also a passionate U.S. college football fan.

"Every Saturday that's where he was, (cheering on) Notre Dame," said St. Lawrence College dean Don Fairweather.

O'Brien was a fixture in the community in general - always quick to offer a smile and a fiendly chat over a drink.

"Your wit, wisdom and friendship shall always be missed," said Kathleen Hay, a friend of O'Brien's for years, who used social media to express her thoughts on O'Brien.

Other tributes are pouring in via Facebook and Twitter.

"A great man. He will be missed by many," said Michael Petrynka, via his Facebook account.

O'Brien was the son of the late James O'Brien and Muriel O'Brien (nee Brooks).

A memorial mass will be held Saturday in O'Brien's native Peterborough.

Organizations: Lawrence College, U.S. college

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Ontario, Notre Dame Peterborough

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  • Michele Larkin
    December 31, 2013 - 08:56

    Very sad news. Rest in peace Jim. You touched my life 25 years ago when I first entered St-Lawrence College. "Steady" is what you used to say to me when I got all flustered in computers! lol You were a dedicated prof and a great friend.

  • Helene
    December 24, 2013 - 08:18

    I will always remember my first computer class... when Jim explained what 'modem' stood for. I exclaimed in glee HEH, THAT's what that martian was talking about when he pointed his modulator / demodulator gun. You can well imagine his response. You can imagine how suitably impressed he was that his class helped me to understand the Bugs Bunny show. LOL He had a quick wit... and always made me laugh. He gave so much of his knowledge, time and mostly his friendship, laughter and love. He will be dearly missed!! You will always be in my thoughts Jim Thank you for all you have given to your students and friends. Feeling lonely and sad.

  • Kevin Bradshaw
    December 23, 2013 - 20:09

    So sad indeed, one of the few math Prof's that I will always remember.

  • Kevin Wilson
    December 23, 2013 - 18:28

    Saddened to loose such a clever mind and friend. Always a smile and typically a quick quip to make you smile and think. R.I.P. Jim , you are missed.

  • Kevin Wilson
    December 23, 2013 - 18:27

    Saddened to loose such a clever mind and friend. Always a smile and typically a quick quip to make you smile and think. R.I.P. Jim , you are missed.