R. Paige O’Brien, 85; memorial service on Friday
Robert Paige O’Brien died peacefully at his Ridgefield home on August 1, with his family and Mia, his Boston terrier, by his side.
The son of Donald M. and Marian O’Brien, he was born in Glens Falls, New York on June 4, 1929. As soon as
they left the hospital, the O’Briens took their newborn son to his grandparents’ cottage on Lake George. Paige and Lake George were inseparable, binding together his love of the water, boats, waterskiing and camping, and the development of a young man with a zest for life and an eccentric sense of humor. He knew every island and could thread an outboard through the hairiest of rocky shallows. As a college student Paige worked summers in the kitchen at the Sagamore Hotel, where he and a friend plated a dissected frog on silver service to be delivered to the dining room.
From a young age Paige exhibited intelligence, determination and discipline. He was a voracious reader and skilled writer, and relished quizzing others on their use of vocabulary. When he acted in school plays, Paige memorized his own part and all of the other parts as well, so that he could coach fellow actors if they faltered. After graduating from Glens Falls High School in 1947, Paige was admitted to Dartmouth College. He graduated with a B.A. in mathematics in 1951 followed by an M.B.A from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration in 1952.
Paige met Marilyn “Lynnie” Abbott, also from Glens Falls and a student at Radcliffe, on a double blind date. They were not paired together but decided to switch dates, courted, and were married on June 27, 1953. Paige began his career as a production and automation manager at General Electric. He went on to specialize in strategic planning, holding positions as Vice President of Corporate Systems Planning and Technology and Vice President of Corporate MIS at American Express; Vice President for Systems Planning and Technology at Chemical Bank; and Vice President for Systems Development at The Equitable.
Lynnie and their six children were the center of Paige’s life, and every day with Paige was full of creativity, surprises, and flashes of brilliance. It might be a delay of dinner because a boat engine repair was drying out in the oven; Christmas presents not just under the tree but hidden around the house; building a ski jump in the back yard and jumping in the dark; Paige posing as a butler when boyfriends phoned; or a sand castle that was bombed from the deck above with firecrackers. He loved the simplest things best: lots of ice, filled salt and pepper shakers, heated plates, hot peppers, and candle smoke.
A spectacular skier, Paige turned heads with his speed and clean technique. He outshone everyone on the slopes and sometimes confused them by wearing a black garbage bag that would whip in the wind. With Paige, you skied through lunchtime when the lift lines were short, ate cold hamburger sandwiches in the car, and learned to ski on ice. He was delighted when several of his children and grandchildren hit the ski racing circuit. As his family grew to include 17 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, Paige presided over skiing and water skiing, adventures on the lake, late night dinners, gin rummy; and held court telling mystery stories and entertaining boyfriends and girlfriends.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marilyn A. O’Brien, and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Valerie O’Brien Smith, her husband Michael and sons Travis, Dwight and Corey; Melanie O’Brien, husband Nicholas Gazetos, children Morgan, Stephanie, Tyler and Drew and Paige’s great-grandchildren, Lily, Vance and Nicholas John; Philip O’Brien, his wife Polly and their sons Kevin, Connor and Dillon; Allen O’Brien; Jennifer Quisenberry, husband David and their children Graham, Ian and Hilary; and Rebecca Schreiber and her children Paige, Claudia, Kade and Olivia.
Visiting hours will be held on Friday, August 8 beginning at 4:30 p.m. followed by a memorial service at 6:00 p.m., at Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance Fund, 6 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
—by the family