John Dee O’Brien, husband of Chris Rammell O’Brien, father of five daughters, and grandfather of 27, passed away from pancreatic cancer on November 6, 2022. He was 73 years old.
Born on November 30, 1948, to Byron and Marjorie Egbert O’Brien, Dee’s childhood in Tetonia, Idaho was rural, rugged, and joyful. He had two older brothers—Thayne and Dale—and three younger sisters—Marian, Lorraine, and Maureen. The family was blessed with a lot of love for each other that continued throughout their lives.
Upon graduation from Teton High School, Dee served a two-and-a-half year mission in Japan for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, returning with admiration and enduring concern for the Japanese people. Home again in Tetonia, Dee fell in love with Christina Rammell. They were married in the Idaho Falls Temple in 1971.
After receiving a teaching degree from Brigham Young University, Dee and Chris returned to Teton Valley where Dee began teaching at Teton High School while Chris worked as a nurse at Teton Valley Hospital. They were blessed with five daughters: Robbi, Stephanie, Nicki, Jamie, and Ashlee.
During 40 years of service Dee taught Physics, Physical Science, Health, Government, Band, and U.S. History. He coached girls basketball and softball, boys baseball, football, and—at the request of Head Coach Lester Wade—basketball. Their friendship would last for more than four decades until Lester’s passing in 2007. After Coach Wade’s retirement, Coach O’Brien, along with his friends Craig and Mike Kunz, coached teams that won Idaho State Championships in 1995 and 1997.
At age 42, while serving as the Bishop of the Driggs 1st Ward, Dee was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. The outlook was grim. Aggressive treatments proved vital. But Dee would later insist it was the care of his angelic wife, Chris, and the faith and prayers of the members of the Driggs 1st Ward that truly spared his life.
Upon retiring from coaching and teaching, Dee and Chris enjoyed traveling with each other and with their children. They were blessed to serve as a senior missionary couple in Rochester, New York. In 2021 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They relished summers in Teton Valley when their house brimmed with kids and grandkids. Winters found them in St. George, Utah. In both locations Dee loved to serve in the LDS temple. His love and service for the Lord, his family, and friends was a hallmark of his life. He truly loved God and loved his neighbor.
Dee is preceded in death by his parents, Byron and Marjorie O’Brien, and his sister, Lorraine Warby (Alan). He is survived by his wife, Chris, his siblings Thayne O’Brien (Corrinne), Dale O’Brien (Susan), Marian Cheney (Kevin) and Maureen Green (David) and his daughters Robbi Bradford (Lance), Stephanie McKellar (Tyler), Nicki Williams (Ryan), Jamie Combs (Phillip), Ashlee Eav (Michael), and 27 grandchildren.
Funeral Services, under the direction of Grand Teton Funeral Home, will be held at 11:00 am Saturday, November 12, at the Driggs Stake Center with Bishop Michael Adams conducting. Family will greet visitors from 6:00 to 8:00 pm Friday evening, November 11 at the Driggs Stake Center and from 9:30-10:45 Saturday before the funeral. Internment will be at the Cache-Clawson Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
To watch the funeral remotely, go to https://zoom.us/j/92649209523