Ellen L. O'Brien

July 22, 2019



Ellen L. O'Brien, 100, a resident of Oswego passed away on July 22, 2019 at her home.

“Lala” or “Bean,” was born in Oswego N.Y. on October 7, 1918 and was the daughter of the late William and Louise (Fitzgibbons) O'Brien. She was a graduate of the Oswego High School and received her degree in Business from Syracuse University in 1941.   In both high school and at SU, Ellen was active in theater productions leading to a lifelong interest in the arts through many trips to Syracuse and New York City with friends to attend live opera and theater.


For 40 years, she was an officer of the family business Neal-O'Brien Lumber and Building Materials Corporation headquartered in Oswego with operations in Fulton, Red Creek, Cato, Phoenix, and Radisson.  


Ellen enjoyed spending time with her family and treasured her correspondence with friends and family whose lives took them away from Oswego.  Ellen was a faithful correspondent. She marked every milestone in the lives of those she loved  through cards and letters that furnished news and gentle counsel, and spun a web connecting friends and family over decades and thousands of miles.  The postal route to Detroit, where her great friend and cousin Mary O’Brien Callaghan and her family lived, was especially well worn.   She also delighted in traversing those miles in person, traveling across America, Canada, and Europe throughout her long life. 


Ellen was baptized in St. Paul’s Parish (now Christ the Good Shepherd Church) and was a faithful congregant for over a century.   She helped with bingo on Team A and sang in the choir.   In her later years, she and her rosary could often be found in her home’s sun room while she marveled at and revered the birds, deer, squirrels, raccoons, and occasional fox that paraded through her backyard garden from the yards of cherished neighbors.


Ellen Louise O’Brien was a radiant presence in the lives of those who were fortunate to know her. She brought a gentle kindness to everyone, and an infectious appreciation of small things. In her honor and as her legacy carry that spirit forward.


Surviving are nine nephews, six nieces, thirty grand nieces and nephews and eight great grand nieces and nephews who have been greatly blessed by her love and her example.     She was preceded in death  by her brother, Lawrence O'Brien Sr. and his wife Margaret, and two sisters, Jean O'Toole and her husband Martin and Ruth Brennan and her husband Jim.


Funeral services will be held on Saturday at 11:00 from the Christ the Good Shepherd Church, 134 East Fifth Street, Oswego, N.Y. 13126.


There are no calling hours.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Motor City Lyric Opera in care of Director Mary Callaghan Lynch online at or Motor City Lyric Opera ,241 Madison Ave # 3, Detroit MI 48226 and Human Concerns, Inc. 85 E 4th St. Oswego, NY 13126.

Arrangements are in care of the Dowdle Funeral Home.

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