James  O'Brien

James Dewey O'Brien

June 3, 1917 - June 18, 2019
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Mr. O’Brien, 102 years old, was born in rural Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana on June 3, 1917. He passed on June 18, 2019, in Fort Washington, MD. Growing up under difficult circumstances after the death of his mother when he was eight-years-old and the onset of the Great Depression at age 12, he forged a remarkable career and a reputation as a kind and cheerful optimist.

After working for the Civilian Conservation Corps, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1938. During the war, he saw action in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific Theaters, most notably the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. He attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer, served on the staff of Rear Admiral Calvin T. Durgin, and was awarded the Bronze Star after a kamikaze plane struck his ship, the USS Natoma Bay.

After the war, he attended Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches where he met his future wife, Neoma R. O’Kelley. He obtained his law degree from Louisiana State University.

Committed to public service, he worked to support orphanages in Louisiana. Assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he formed a citizens committee that investigated and prosecuted public corruption within the state government and judiciary.

After an unsuccessful campaign for Congress, he was hired by the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division in 1953 where he prosecuted criminal tax cases for most of his career. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division during the Ford Administration.

Upon retirement, Mr. O’Brien gave pro bono legal assistance to many genealogical, patriotic, and hereditary organizations as a national officer, member, or friend, including Sons of the American Revolution, First Families of Connecticut, the Crown of Charlemagne, and Early Quakers. On April 12, 2014, the National Huguenot Society awarded him the NHS Distinguished Service Medal, one of his prized possessions.

He is the author of two books, “Our Colonial Ancestors,” a genealogical study, and “An American Experience, The First Ninety-Three Years,” an autobiography.

He is survived by his wife, Neoma, and four children, Terrence C. O’Brien of Venice, California, Kathleen E. O’Brien Lockwood of Reston, Virginia, Michael S. O’Brien of Waldorf, Maryland, and Daniel J. O’Brien of Redondo Beach, California, as well as four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

A viewing will take place on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, from 10 am until time of Funeral Service at 11 am at the KALAS FUNERAL HOME & CREMATORY, 6160 Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill, MD 20745.
Interment with a committal service will be held on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 11 a.m. in the chapel at Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery, 11301 Crain Hwy, Cheltenham, MD 20623
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 | 10:00am - 11:00am
    Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 10:00am - 11:00am
  • Service

    Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 | 11:00am
    Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 11:00am
  • Interment

    Maryland Veterans Cemetery, Cheltenham
    11301 Crain Hwy.
    CHELTENHAM, MD 20623
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    A committal service will be held on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 11 a.m. in the chapel.


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Dennis Mitchell, Lawrence S. Middleton, & Sandy Ea and Steven, Jacquie and Shelley Hawkins sent flowers to the family of James Dewey O'Brien.
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Rhonda Ainsworth

Posted at 12:43am
Dear Aunt Neoma,

We all are very sad to hear of Uncle Dewey's passing.

I will miss hearing from him and learning from him. I have always loved Uncle Dewey's zest for life and his love for music and learning new things. It was contagious. I always wanted to be like him.

Our love and prayers go out to you Aunt Neoma, please let me know if there is anything i can do for you. Give everyone my love.

Rhonda Ainsworth
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Dennis Mitchell, Lawrence S. Middleton, & Sandy Ea

Posted at 07:28pm
From Dennis, Lawrence and Sandy, with deepest sympathy.
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Dennis Mitchell, Lawrence S. Middleton, & Sandy Ea purchased flowers for the family of James O'Brien. Send Flowers


Steven, Jacquie and Shelley Hawkins

Posted at 01:11pm
To the O’BRIEN family,
Our sincere condolences
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Steven, Jacquie and Shelley Hawkins purchased the Peaceful White Lilies Basket for the family of James O'Brien. Send Flowers


Jo Anne Knott Whitt

Posted at 05:17pm
I first wrote to him years ago for a copy of his book Our Colonial Ancestors I am a Knott relative He gave permission for me to copy Then we communicated for years He wrote the most fascinating emails of his life and history I feel very honored to have known him He is a true American hero God bless his family

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