Obituary: Raymond O’Brien, 86, of Ludington.

August 30, 2022

Raymond O’Brien

Obituary: Raymond O’Brien, 86, of Ludington.

On Saturday, August 27, 2022, Raymond Clarence O’Brien, loving husband, dad, grandpa and great grandpa passed away at the age of 86. He was courageous as he battled cancer, on and off, over the last 10 years.

Raymond was born on March 23,1936 in Muskegon to Edward and Lena (Reamer) O’Brien. Oh, the stories he told of growing up on a farm with all of his siblings! After graduating from Scottville High School, he entered the U.S. Air Force to proudly serve his country. There he served as a dental assistant and had many interesting stories of his four years served. The best story, however, was the one that began at the officer’s club on Pepperrell Air Force Base, where he was stationed in St. Johns, Newfoundland, for that’s where he met the love of his life, Patricia Ellen Bancroft.  They were smitten from the start, sharing a love of dancing and many evenings on the dance floor.  St. Johns was a place they would visit often and holds many happy memories for the entire family.

They were married on November 22, 1958, in Ludington and called this home for their entire married life of almost 64 years. Ray worked for Harbison Walker for almost 40 years, along with all of his brothers and even some cousins.  He was eventually asked to become an electrical supervisor and joked that he did not feel qualified for the position. He even asked his boss why he chose him for the role, and his boss said simply “because I know that you will get the work done.”  That was Ray.  A loyal, hardworking, honest, empathetic and compassionate man who took pride in his work and loved his wife and family above all else.  In addition to working for Harbison Walker, he sold and fixed Electrolux vacuums and shampooed carpets on the weekends – a trade he learned from his father.  He often had one or two kids in tow, creating many wonderful memories along the way.  He was never afraid of hard work and loved a challenge, which led him to design and build one of our family homes with the help of his brothers and father.  He was the ultimate handyman and could fix anything!

Raymond and Patricia raised five children and he was present for every tennis match, band concert, show choir event and comedy show in order to support his children; Tammy, Randy, Kelly, Amy and Patsy.  He did not hunt, fish, or follow sports.  Those were not his thing.  What he did love was his family and he was an amazing dad and grandpa to 15 grandchildren who adored him!  He referred to them lovingly as “his silly gooses” and often told them that he loved them “a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck.”  He attended every sporting event, dance recital, birthday party, graduation, pageant and wedding – he was always present for those he loved and it was what brought him happiness through the years.

Ray’s other love was their 1966 Ford Mustang. He took such pride in that car and was often found driving through Ludington waving at passersby or driving it in the Fourth of July parade and other hometown celebrations. He especially enjoyed taking his grandkids in the parade and for rides around town. He spent hours shining her finish and keeping her in immaculate condition. They attended numerous car shows and won so many awards and trophies that their garage became a showroom of sorts. It was his pride and joy for 29 years.

Ray was extremely shy as a child and into his young adult life, however, you would never have known it. He was a friend to everyone that knew him. He was a storyteller and could weave a yarn that kept you laughing for hours. He would spend hours in the mall, while his girls shopped, drinking coffee and talking with everyone that crossed his path.  He loved a good joke and was excellent in his delivery.  Even as he lay recovering in a hospital bed, he would tell his doctors and nurses stories and jokes to put them at ease and put a smile on their faces. He was always thinking of others and trying to spread laughter and joy.

For many years, Ray and Pat enjoyed walks through the beach, out to the breakwall and around the marina.  On any given night, you might see them walking hand-in-hand out to watch the Badger depart, sitting on a bench enjoying the scenery, or talking with friends. They also enjoyed several cruises on “The S.S. Norway”, trips to Siesta Key, Fla., weekly Friday night dinners, and several trips “up home” to St. Johns, Newfoundland. They were a model of love and dedication through their constant companionship, hugs, laughter and love for each other. This is his legacy.

Raymond was preceded in death by his father, Edward O’Brien and his mother, Lena (Reamer); his brothers Joe, Gerald, Gilbert, Edward; and his sister Mary Ann Workman of Muskegon.  

He is survived by his loving wife Pat; his five children: Tammy (Tim) Martin, Randy (Tammy Lynn) O’Brien, Kelly (Mark) Thomsen, Amy (Greg) Corda, and Patsy (Matt) Visscher; 15 grandchildren: Galen (Anna) Martin, Emma (Tyler) Claveau, Brady and Corey O’Brien, Salena (Tyler) Hamilton, Nicholas (Renee) Thomsen,  Erin (Dakota) Ambrose, Madelynn and Helena Corda, Morgan (Jared) Mainous, Sierra (Steven) Smoleroff, Caleb (Sarah) Visscher, Hannah, Victoria and Grace Visscher; 13 great-grandchildren with another on the way; his brother, Carl; his sister-in-law, Florence Williams, as well as several nieces and nephews.

A Mass from the Order of Christian Funerals will be held on Saturday, September 3, 2022 at 2 p.m. at St. Simon Catholic Church in Ludington with Rev. Wayne B. Wheeler, Jr. presiding. Military honors will follow. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. at the church. Please come and help us celebrate an amazing man and a life well-lived.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: https://www.stjude.org/donate/donate-to-st-jude.html or the American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/involved/donate.html. 

Arrangements were entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington, www.OakGroveLudington.com. 

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