Patrick Gene O’Brien

Patrick Gene O'Brien of Cimarron, New Mexico

Patrick was born September 26, 1935 in Jackson, Minnesota. He died the evening of May 10, 2019 after a long and courageous fight against cancer.

His early life took him from Minnesota and Iowa to Oregon and California. After leaving high school, he did a tour with the U.S. Air Force. He later took advantage of the G.I. Bill to attend college. His Bachelors of Science degree was from Portland State University, and his Masters and Ph. D from Wayne State University in Michigan, where he majored in U.S. History. Pat became a history professor and historian, focusing on the years between the World Wars. Most of his career was spent teaching 35 years at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas.

His awards for research and writing were many, from a major bibliography of Herbert Hoover, to numerous articles for the Kansas Peace Officers magazine; the Annals of Iowa; and the Journal of the Great Plains of the Kansas State Historical Society. In 1994, he received the Edgar Langsdorf Award for Excellence in Writing from the Kansas State Historical Society for his articles on the Kansas Home Front during WWII.  He was responsible for writing and receiving two major National Endowment for the Humanities grants to found the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State. He had been a member of the Kansas Humanities Council and the Kansas Folklore Society.  

Pat was a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Cimarron where he served many years as Financial Secretary for the Knights of Columbus. He loved to dance and garden, travel — especially to the National Parks — where he and Yvonne volunteered and worked at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest; have coffee with buddies or a beer with his students; tell jokes; and argue politics. He was also known for his longevity on Disney's Flying Dumbo when his middle daughter wouldn't get off the ride.

Pat was preceded in death by parents, Theresa and step-father Patrick O'Brien; Milo and stepmothers Thelma and Vivien Matthews; son Patrick; and sister Lelia.

His survivors include his wife Yvonne of the home, his daughters Kolleen O'Brien and husband Gregg Sterner of Olathe Kansas, Kathleen Pirie and husband Chuck of Olathe; Kendra Menke and husband Steve of Olathe; his son Kevin O'Brien of Vancouver, Washington; and step-sons Daniel Ellsworth of Liberty, Missouri and Michael Ellsworth and wife, Nancy of Atlanta, Georgia; brother Phillip O'Brien and wife Mary of Springfield, Missouri; and step-sister Patricia Hendricks of Eugene, Oregon. thirteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, aunts, cousins nephews and nieces and numerous friends.

A service for Patrick Gene O'Brien will be held June 1st at 10 a.m. in Cimarron at the Sr. Hildegarde Parish Hall. The service will be followed by a dinner.

A later "Celebration of Life" will be held June 14th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Didde Catholic Center, at ESU in Emporia, Kansas.

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, to make a donation in Pat's name to Salvation Army, Catholic Charities or Heifer International.

Honorary pallbearers will be the Knights of Columbus of Immaculate Conception Church.

Funeral arrangements are by the Alderette-Pomeroy Funeral home in Raton, New Mexico.

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