James E. O’Brien, 1971

Spring 2017 (May 1, 2017)

James E. O’Brien, 67, of West Union, Iowa, died Dec. 26th, 2016, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. James Edward, the son of Everett and Avis (Dirksen) O’Brien was born Feb. 2, 1949, in Waterloo, Iowa. Jim grew up in Sumner, Iowa, and graduated from Sumner High School. He graduated from Luther College, Graduate School of Banking, and College for Financial Planning. He was a Certified Financial Planner and Mutual Fund Counselor.

Jim was the co-owner of O’Brien Brothers Drug, the Executive Vice President and Director of Farmers Savings Bank, and President of O’Brien and Associates. Upon graduation from Luther College he served his country in the United States Marine Corps during Vietnam. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.

Jim was united in marriage with Valerie Peterson on Jan. 18th, 1986, in Elgin, Iowa. To this union, one son, Michael was born. Jim was very active in the community. He was a past president of Rotary International; West Union Industrial Development; West Union Country Club; West Union Ambassadors; West Union Betterment Foundation; Zion Endowment Trust; Jaycees; Northeast Iowa Shriners; and the Bank Administration Institute.

The Masons were a very important part of his life. He was a member and Past Master of Masonic Lodge #69 in West Union and Lookout Lodge #395 in Sumner and Cedar Rapids Consistory. He was a member of the Troop 54 Committee; American Legion Post 15; Various Committees at Zion Lutheran Church; Ducks Unlimited; History and Literature; Library Board; West Union Sesquicentennial Steering Committee; Fayette County Economic Development; West Union Chamber; and the Committee to build the PAC at the North Fayette Valley High School. He volunteered for many hours at the North Fayette Elementary, Middle, and High Schools. He was named the West Union Citizen of the Year in 1988, 1989 and 1999.

His hobbies and interests include camping, fishing, hunting, backpacking, coin collecting, reading and traveling. While in college Jim went to Panama on three different occasions for archaeological digs, which sparked a desire to trace his own family history. Jim volunteered his time recording cemeteries for Fayette County and has compiled a database of over 30,000 individuals. He enjoyed history and facts and was known for his stories and jokes. Spending time with friends and family was what he loved most and was always ready to play games.

Jim is survived by his wife, Valerie of West Union; his son, Michael O’Brien of Iowa City, Iowa; his brother, Thomas (Darlene) O’Brien of Maricopa, Ariz.; mother-in-law, Janice Peterson of Elgin, Iowa; sister-in-laws, Joni (Steve) Gisleson of Elgin; and Renee (Rodney) Ray of Brooklyn Park, Minn.; nieces and nephews, Lisa (Jay) Heying, Chris (Katie) Gisleson, Laura (Collin) Looby, Rodney Ray, and Raeann Ray; and great nephews TJ Heying, Myles Gisleson and Xander Looby; aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents and father-in-law.

Funeral Services were held Dec. 30th, 2016, at the Zion Lutheran Church in West Union, Iowa, Rev. Adam Starrett officiated.

Memorials may be made to the Zion Lutheran Church Endowment Trust.

There was a Masonic Service held for Jim on Jan. 16th, 2017, at the Masonic Lodge in West Union, Iowa, the public was invited to this service.

Burnham-Wood-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service, West Union, Iowa helped the family with the arrangements.