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.