W. John O’Brien 1942 - 2009 Greensboro, N.C.
Greensboro, N.C. — A celebration of life service for Dr. W. John O’Brien, 66, will be at 4 p.m. Thursday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Greensboro.
Dr. O’Brien died Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009, at his home in Guilford County. The cause was pancreatic cancer.
He was born on Nov. 30, 1942, in Summit, N.J., the son of William J. and Sarah Dobbs O’Brien. He attended Gettysburg College and completed graduate work at Cornell University and Michigan State University, where he earned a doctorate in 1970.
He was on the faculty at Kansas University for 30 years before joining the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as a professor of biology in January 2001.
Dr. O’Brien’s research in aquatic ecology is widely recognized. He studied zooplankton ecology in temperate reservoirs and in Arctic lakes and ponds, and was one of the founding members of the Toolik Lake Arctic Research Station supported by the National Science Foundation.
He was an active member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Greensboro, where he served on the outreach committee and was instrumental in connecting Episcopal churches in Greensboro with Habitat for Humanity. He was a member of the Guilford County Environmental Review Board, and always worked to promote respect for the natural world and to teach young people to enjoy and love woods, fields, streams and especially lakes.
Survivors include his wife, Marion; a son, Connor and wife Beth, Emeryville, Calif.; two daughters, Shay, Oakland, Calif., and Lia, of Philadelphia; and a grandson, Rowan.
The family will meet friends following the service on Thursday.
The family suggests memorials to the UNCG Excellence Foundation, on behalf of the W. John O’Brien Award for Ecological Field Research, sent in care of Judy Piper, UNCG Development, P.O. Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170.
Cremation Services Inc. of Winston-Salem, N.C., is in charge of arrangements.