March 2, 1925 – January 23, 2021
Joseph F. O’Brien died peacefully at home with family on Saturday, January 23rd, 2021.
Joe was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He was preceded in death by his parents, Rose and Joe, and his sister, Constance. He graduated from LaSalle College High School in Philly, and attended Cornell University where he played collegiate basketball. He left Cornell early to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII where he served as a Quad-40 Gun Captain aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier.
Following the war, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1949 and held positions in Personnel at the Oliver and Whirlpool Corporations. Within in a few short years he joined his Alma Mater in 1958 where had two careers at Notre Dame that spanned 38 years, in both Personnel and Athletic Administration.
First as Director of Personnel, he was responsible for the preparation and implementation of all Staff Employee policies, procedures and fringe benefits with the mandate to establish one uniform administration for all existing individual departments. At this he succeeded, with many of these policies still in use today. In 1976 he pivoted within the University serving as Associate Athletic Director, handling many administrative duties such as budgeting, transportation, and ticketing. During his time, Notre Dame athletics had much success, including two national football championships in 1977 and 1988. He thoroughly enjoyed mentoring countless student athletes. His blood ran Blue and Gold.
Joe married Betty Ackil in 1949 and enjoyed 67 years together in a wonderful family lifestyle. Surviving family members are his daughter, Susan Davis RN, grandchildren Nicole (Peter) Riordan, MD and Patrick (Marie) Davis, MD and great grandchildren Nathalie and Claire Riordan, and Joseph Bourgeois-Davis. All are sources of great pride and love for him.
During his career, Joe listed many leadership roles including President of Michiana Personnel Association, President of College and University Personnel Association, President of College Athletic Business Manager’s Association, President of South Bend Rotary and Notre Dame Class of 1949 Class Secretary.
He received recognition with awards such as CUPA Man of the Year, CABMA Man of the Year, Notre Dame’s Jim Armstrong Award, the Chicago Club’s Moose Krause Award and the Notre Dame President’s Award.
Joe enjoyed participating in most all sporting activities especially golf, baseball and water sports. Although Notre Dame athletics was his pride and joy, nevertheless he was a man for all seasons supporting his beloved Phillies and his Birch Lake home of over 50 years. He was an avid reader with a deep appreciation for poetry, music and military history.
He will be greatly missed by the many lives he has touched and his departure leaves a void in our hearts. As Joe would customarily write of those friends he lost in the Notre Dame Magazine, may it be written for him: “Rest well, old friend, until we meet again.”
Due to Covid concerns private visitation with be held on Tuesday at McGann Hay Funeral Homes, Granger Chapel, 13260 SR 23, enter the parking lot off Cherry Rd. The Reverend Paul Doyle, CSC will preside at a the Mass of Christian Burial at 9:30am on Wednesday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus. Gravesite services and burial will follow at Highland Cemetery. All are welcome to attend mass and burial. Memorial Donations in Joe’s memory may be made to: Home Instead Senior Care, 3025 N Grape Rd., Mishawaka IN 46545.
Click on link below for livestream of funeral service on Wednesday at 9:30am.
To send private condolences or to share memories, please visit www.McGannHay.com