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Evelyn O'Brien

October 3, 1921 — September 3, 2017

Evelyn O'Brien


Evelyn Bernice Hatlevig O’Brien passed away on Saturday, September 3, 2017, surrounded by loving family members at the Roger Metz Manor.  She was 95 years old.

Evelyn was born on October 3, 1921, in Arendahl, Minnesota to Clarence and Mary Hatlevig. She often told her children, grandchildren, and even her great grandchildren of the fun she had growing up on the farm, doing her chores, and riding to her one room schoolhouse during the wintertime with her siblings, bundled up in blankets in a horse-drawn sleigh.  As a teenager she worked as a maid at one of the “mansions on Lake Winona,” eventually making her way to Washington, DC where she worked at an ice cream factory.  She next moved to Milwaukee, WI where she worked at Gas Specialty Company.  At a local dance she was charmed by a young Hawaiian man, Eugene O’Brien, who was an Arthur Murray dance instructor.  She married him on June 23, 1951, and they lived in Milwaukee, WI, Kansas City, Kansas, and Romeoville, IL before eventually settling in Winona.

Although Evelyn worked for several years at Fiberite and Westgate Motel, she was a full-time mother to her daughter and five sons.  She took immense pleasure in scrubbing out the grass stains and sewing the holes in our football uniforms so her boys looked spotless on the gridiron.  She was the organizer of countless weekend picnics, throwing together bologna and summer sausage sandwiches, neatly stacked in an old ice cream bucket, and embellishing them with her special potato salad, baked beans, and jello with fruit cocktail.  And she always participated in our family touch football games.  The older siblings have a special memory of her, six months pregnant, outrunning Dad to score the winning touchdown!  Evelyn loved to read the newspaper and kept a scrapbook where she clipped articles on the various accomplishments of each of her children.  She loved cooking and decorating her home for the holidays, Grandma’s house being the centerpiece for many Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter celebrations with children and grandchildren.

In her later years Evelyn became an avid golfer, participating in the annual O’Brien Open golf tourney even at age 95.  She participated with Dad in the Friday night Couples’ League at Westfield for many years, enjoying the fellowship of many other couples.

Evelyn, an avid church-goer even up to the time of her death, was a member of St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church.  Evie and Gene loved to choose names from the “giving tree” each year, making Christmas a joyous occasion for multiple other families.  Evie also had a knack for winning quilts at the parish bazaar, a knack that she happily passed on to Reverend Thomas Hargesheimer.  Evelyn’s gentle smile and warm spirit will be greatly missed by her many friends and family members.

Evelyn is survived by her six children: Michael (Susan) O'Brien, Winona; David (Jeanann) O'Brien, Winona; Patti (Jim) Thiewes, Chaska, MN; Kevin O'Brien, La Crosse, WI; Robert O'Brien, La Crosse, WI; and Jon (Alison) O'Brien, Woodbury, MN; 8 grandchildren:  Andy O'Brien (girlfriend Stacy), Tim (Alicia) O'Brien, Dan (Nina) O'Brien, Rebecca (Gabe) Ramirez, Matt (Mary) O'Brien, Katie (Christian) Miller, Phil (Antoinette) Thiewes, Eric (Jennifer) Thiewes; and 10 great-grandchildren: Lexi and Livi O’Brien, Oliver, Vivian, and Oscar O’Brien, Tyler and Evelyn Miller, Lorenzo Thiewes, and Lillian and Penelope Thiewes.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene, her parents, Mary and Clarence; her brothers, Melvin and Clifford; and her sisters, Ruth, Esther, and Jean.

Visitation will be on Sunday, September 10, 2017, from 6-8 pm, at Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home.  A brief prayer service will commence at 7:30 pm.  There will not be any visitation held on Monday – please meet at the church for Mass.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Monday, September 11, 2017, at 1:00 pm at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, 560 East Broadway, Winona, followed by a luncheon at the Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka church basement, 625 East Fourth Street.  The Reverend Monsignor Thomas J. Hargesheimer will preside. Pallbearers will be her grandchildren.

Burial will take place at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at a later date.  The family prefers memorials to St. John Nepomucene Church or Cotter High School.

Online condolences or memories may be left for Evelyn’s family at

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