CHP Officer & Civic Activist.
By Christi Anne Corpus
Signal Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
nown to many Santa Clarita residents as J.J. O'Brien, longtime community leader and California Highway Patrol officer John O'Brien died at an assisted living home in Camarillo of possible heart failure Friday. He was 76.
O'Brien was a longtime champion of the cityhood for Santa Clarita and spent more than 40 years living and working in the community.
"I always say be careful what you wish for," O'Brien said of the growth of Santa Clarita in a recent interview with The Signal. He reportedly cut a $500 check to go toward the incorporation of Santa Clarita in 1987.
"Even though he knew of the impact it would make on our job, he was instrumental in trying to get the city incorporated," said Michelle Esposito, spokeswoman for the CHP Newhall area station. "He was very well-liked and a very nice guy. He didn't move out of this community until recently, which shows he really loved it here."
Before cityhood brought contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the CHP's jurisdiction stretched throughout the entire Santa Clarita Valley.
Nevertheless, O'Brien was a strong supporter of Santa Clarita cityhood and served on several committees for the local chamber of commerce, as well as for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich's planning advisory committee, using his expertise as a state trooper to advise the groups on the changing transportation needs of the valley.
For years O'Brien also taught administration of justice classes for College of the Canyons classes which many of the current CHP officers at the Newhall area station took part in.
O'Brien's four children were raised in Saugus and attended Hart High School.
He eventually moved to Camarillo late last year to be closer to his family and to get away from the bustle of Santa Clarita.
Pauline "Mimi" O'Brien, his wife of 54 years, died in September 2005. The two met in San Diego at a dance while O'Brien was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) in his name because he was very involved with the designated driver program in Santa Clarita," Esposito said.
Rosary services for John O'Brien will be held on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Eternal Valley Memorial Park & Mortuary located at 23287 North Sierra Highway.
A funeral mass will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Clare Catholic Church located at 19606 Calla Way in Canyon Country, with internment at Eternal Valley afterward.
O'Brien is survived by his 3 daughters, Kathleen Kadel and husband, Nick of Aurora, Colo.; Karen Forrest and husband Jim of Mossyrock, Wash.; and Peggy Kinney and husband Glen of Camarillo, Calif.; son Kevin O'Brien and wife Laurie of Newhall; and grandchildren Nikole, Brian, Willie, Kelsey, Connor, Justin and Sean.
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