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Dean O'Brien

Dean O'Brien
Dean O'Brien Professor, Communication and the Arts 5/28/90

Dean O'Brien passed away Wednesday, June 16, 2010 in Buffalo, Minn. A lifelong Wisconsinite, he and his wife, Polly, moved to Minnesota in 2003 to be closer to their grandchildren, Dylan and Phoebe O'Brien. Dean was born April 25, 1932 in Waukesha, Wis., to Warren S. O'Brien and Elizabeth Jones O'Brien, part of a regional family of photographers. He attended Carroll College for two years, completing undergraduate and graduate degrees at UW-Madison and serving in the Marine Corps at the end of the Korean War. On a blind date in Chicago, he met the love of his life, Polly C. Eddy, formerly of Howard Lake, Minn. Their many adventures together included raising sons, Colin (Nora Cecchini, Madison, Wis.) and Tim (Mary Claire, Dylan and Phoebe, Rockford, Minn.), writing historical guidebooks, starting Artstreet Festival and the Botanical Garden Fair in Green Bay, Wis., and enjoying several trips to England and Wales. His career as a journalist and mentor encompassed his tenure as Professor of Communication at UW-Green Bay, as editor of Voyageur, an historical journal; and as newspaper columnist for the Baraboo News-Republic. His kindness, intellectual curiosity and gentle spirit were treasured by all whose lives were touched by his, even as dementia slowly took him away. He will be deeply missed.

Dean's family extends gratitude to Park View Care Center in Buffalo, Minn., for their compassionate care.

Memorials to be given to Park View Care Center or Guardian Angels/Elim Hospice of Buffalo, Minn.

Memorial service 10 a.m., Tuesday, June 22 at Park Terrace/Park View Ministry Center, 200 Park Lane, Buffalo, MN 55313.

Cremation Society of Minnesota
Brooklyn Park

(Obituary published June 18, 2010, Green Bay Press-Gazette; reprinted with permission from Kevin Corrado, president and publisher, Green Bay Press-Gazette.)

Dean O-Brien, co-founder of Green Bay art, garden fairs, dies at age 78

(Published June 18, 2010, Green Bay Press-Gazette)

Dean O'Brien, who with his wife Polly helped found two beloved Green Bay events — Artstreet and the Green Bay Botanical Garden Fair — died Wednesday in Buffalo, Minn. He was 78.

O'Brien, a Waukesha native, was a professor emeritus of communication and the arts at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He taught journalism at UWGB from 1968 until retiring in 1990.

Artstreet was founded in 1982 when O'Brien, who had tried unsuccessfully to preserve historic buildings on North Washington Street in downtown Green Bay, sought a way to keep the area vibrant.

"Green Bay was seen as a poor market for art and they had destroyed downtown for the mall. We wanted people to see what downtown was like," Dean O'Brien told the Press-Gazette's Dian Page in 1995.

"We wanted to break the idea that arts are an elitist thing," Polly O'Brien said in 1995. "We wanted it in the streets for everyone."

In the early 1980s, the O'Briens were active in the Cofrin Arboretum on the UWGB campus and were early advocates of a botanical garden in Green Bay. In 1984, they organized the first Green Bay Botanical Garden Fair.

In 1989, Dean O'Brien became editor of Voyageur, a regional history magazine published by the Brown County Historical Society. In 1995, he and his wife co-edited "Historic Northeast Wisconsin," a guidebook to historic sites in the region. They spent two years researching the book, visiting almost all of the 650 sites in 17 counties.

The O'Briens moved to Baraboo in 1995, where he was a columnist for the Baraboo News-Republic newspaper, then to Minnesota in 2003.

A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Park Terrace/Park View Ministry Center in Buffalo, Minn.

(Reprinted with permission from Kevin Corrado, president and publisher, Green Bay Press-Gazette.)

Read more about Dean O'Brien's life and career accomplishments by going to the UW-Green Bay web site.