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Obituary - Denis O'Brien

Author: Helen Peters Published: 9th July 2020 10:10

Helen Peters shares fond words on the life of her father Denis, who served for many years as a councillor in Neston and who sadly passed away in April.

Denis O'Brien

My dad, Denis O'Brien, who has died aged 94 of Covid-19, was a lifelong socialist who loved sharing a beer with friends while discussing the idiosyncrasies of life. He believed passionately that society could be a better, fairer and kinder place.

Born in Neston to William, a master tailor, and his wife, Ann (nee Sharman), Denis went to the local council school before starting his working life at Shell-Mex at Thornton in Cheshire, where he trained to be an engineer. He did his national service with the Royal Corps of Signals just after the second world war, and in 1947 was posted to Berlin, where he became skilled in the operation of the undulator, a high-speed radio transmitter. While stationed there he regularly attended the Berlin Philharmonic, developing a passion for music.

He was introduced to June Riley by her brother David, who had also been stationed in Berlin. When Dad saw a picture of her, he told David she was the girl he'd like to marry, but David poo-poohed the idea, replying that his sister "would never look at you". Nonetheless, when they eventually met, they fell in love, and were married in 1951 at Birkenhead Town Hall.

On leaving the army Denis joined British Rail as a finance and budgeting clerk, where he stayed until his retirement in 1983.

He joined the Labour party in 1944, and in later years became secretary of his local branch. He also served as a Labour councillor for Neston Urban District Council and, later, for Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council. He was chair of the school governors of Deeside special school, as well as being a school governor at a number of other local schools. He worked for many years as a volunteer official with the Workers' Educational Association and in 2013 received an award from the WEA for long and dedicated service.

Denis was a great lover of the arts, regularly attending concerts at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, visiting galleries and exhibitions, and going to the theatre. He was a founder member of the Deeside Midweek Ramblers Club and indulged his love of the natural world while walking the lanes and pathways of the English countryside. Many sunny Saturday afternoons were spent as a spectator at Neston Cricket Club, and he was a regular at Old Trafford to watch Lancashire.

Committed, caring and principled, he was a loving family man who was well known and liked locally, and often referred to as a true gentleman.

He is survived by June, their children, David, Nigel, Jane, Pam, Richard and me, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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Susan C
At 12:15 on 9th July 2020, Susan C commented:
Denis is one of the few people I remember from my first days in Neston in the '70/80s. We both attended various WEA classes- politics and philosophy, and Denis was amazingly well-informed on these subjects, and could have run the class himself! I was later a committee member with Denis. We sometimes met at their house in Mellock Lane, and I can still picture him in his armchair, listening to his music and reading something from his huge library - with a glass of something pleasant by his side!
At 10:41 on 15th July 2020, Shelagh commented:
That's very sad news. He was a lovely gentleman and always so smartly turned out!
At 19:58 on 15th July 2020, janice commented:
I'm very sorry to hear of Mr. O'Brien's death. Lovely to hear of his earlier life and how he met his wife. Sincere sympathy Helen, to you and all family. I will remember him as a lovely gentleman.

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