Frances McDonald O’Brien passed away at age 94 on June 29, in her apartment at The Mather retirement home, in Evanston, Ill. She was fortunate to be surrounded by numerous members of her enormous family. Fran was born to Dr. William J. McDonald and Mary Magee McDonald on Oct. 4, 1927, at Brookline Mass. She was the oldest of their 7 children. She graduated from Notre Dame Academy and Radcliffe College. On a post-college trip to Europe she met her future husband, Maurice J. O’Brien. In 1950 they married, settled in Evanston, and had the first of what would ultimately grow to be a family of thirteen children. Fran’s family and friends knew her as a “Woman for All Seasons”. At various times in her long life she traveled widely, lavished attention and effort on her gardens, collected art and antiques, and read voraciously. Her curiosity about her children’s lives and thoughts was a life-long constant, enabling her to make every one of them feel seen and heard; secure in the knowledge that she loved them, their children, and her great grandchildren extravagantly. All of them looked to her as a judicious dispenser of wise counsel, and, when needed, firm guidance. Fran’s husband, Jim, passed away in 2005. She is survived by 2 of her siblings, Paul McDonald and Mary Monaco: her thirteen children, Marynell Simkoff (William), James (Mac) O’Brien, Polly O’Brien (Barrett Toan ), Elizabeth O’Brien (Richard Kerber), Maurice William (Caroline Dunne), Martha O’Brien (Mark Jenssen), Timothy O’Brien (Eli), John O’Brien (Mary), Joseph O’Brien (Cynthia Hadesman ), Clare O’Brien, Peter O’Brien (Cheryl Lulias), Katherine Porter (David), and Jane Raichle (Timothy); 32 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren, the last of whom was born and named for her the day she died. She leaves every one of these bereft, but utterly grateful to have had her in their lives, and relieved that she was able to leave her life as she lived it: with grace and joy, surrounded by immense love.Visitation Tuesday, July 19, 2022, 9:00 am until time of a 11:00 am Funeral Service at Donnellan Family Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL 60077. Live Streaming of the Funeral Service will be posted and Remembrances can be directed to Frances’ obituary page at donnellanfuneral.com. Interment private. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Misericordia Home, 6300 Ridge Avenue, Chicago, IL 60660. Info: donnellanfuneral.com or (847) 675-1990.
Published by Chicago Tribune on Jul. 10, 2022.
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