Human Development and Family Studies

School of Health and Human Sciences

Dr. Marion O’Brien, MA, PhD, of Jamestown, NC, Professor Emerita at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, died peacefully on the evening of December 21, 2015. Diagnosed with cancer in June 2015, she remained active and engaged with friends and family until the last week of her life.

She is survived by three children, son Connor O’Brien of Emeryville, CA and daughters Shay O’Brien of Alameda, CA and Lia O’Brien of Greensboro, NC, their spouses, two grandchildren, Rowan O’Brien and Finian Gibbs, and cousin Judy Bley, of San Francisco. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Albert Meier, all of Philadelphia, and by her husband of 45 years, Dr. W. John O’Brien.

Born on February 4, 1943 to Ferdinand and Eleanor Meier of Philadelphia, PA, she was married to the late W. John O’Brien in 1964. She graduated BA from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA in 1964, and went on to receive her MA and PhD at the University of Kansas, where she enjoyed a distinguished career as an Assistant to Full Professor in the department of Human Development and Family Life. During her 16 years as faculty at KU, she directed a number of significant research programs studying cognitive and social development in young children. At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she went on to serve as a Professor and Mentor Faculty in the Human Development and Family Studies Department from 2001 to 2012 and Associate Dean of Research in the School of Health and Human Services from 2007 to 2011. During her academic career, she served on several editorial boards for prominent journals in the field of child development and was nationally prominent as a researcher and policy advocate. She was a mentor to many students and junior faculty during her career. Throughout her life and especially so following her retirement, she was an avid traveller who had been on every continent except Antarctica. A loving wife, mother and grandmother, beloved as a wise and compassionate person, she maintained throughout her life the curiosity and humane spirit for which she will be fondly rememberd by all who knew her.

The family will receive well-wishers at 4:00 PM, Saturday January 9, 2016 in the Virginia Dare room of the Alumni House on the UNCG campus, with a memorial service to follow.In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation.