Library Left Hefty Donation for Books

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

US Navy Lt. Thomas L. O’Brien Jr.

US Navy Lt. Thomas L. O’Brien Jr.

People do things for a reason and that’s what 84-year-old Thomas O’Brien Jr. did when he passed away on Nov. 20, 2013 peacefully at home.

O’Brien lived on Pleasant Street and was an avid reader with no immediate family living. He was a Navy pilot during the Korean War having reached the rank of lieutenant. His cousin Mary O’Brien said he probably would have made a career of the Navy but he came home to take care of his family, especially his brother Paul, who suffered from polio and spent time in an iron lung at Winthrop Hospital.

He went to work as a manager at New England Telephone and Telegraph. He was an avid golfer who never married or had children. He liked playing cribbage and was known to be a private person. His cousin said liked politics and political cartoons.

It seems as if anything that touched O’Brien’s life he remembered well in his will.

He left $120,000 to the public library, a place he used often in his younger days. The funds left to the library may only be used for the purchase of books. In appreciation, the library will dedicate the book stacks to Thomas O’Brien Jr. on Feb. 15.

“His name will be on the end of each stack,” said town librarian Diane Wallace, who is more than thrilled to have funds to purchase books.”

She said the bonus with the donation is a $1,000 interest accrued each year. Wallace has her eyes out for Naval books and Naval history to honor Thomas O’Brien Jr.’s service. Each book purchased through these funds will have a bookplate on the inside cover.

“We’ll be able to buy books we normally wouldn’t, like $35 cookbooks,” Wallace said.

Funds were left to several organizations and individuals including St. John’s Catholic Church in Winthrop and Boston College High School where his brother went to school.

“There were personal reasons,” Mary O’Brien said. “He was a charitable person.”

There are 90,000 books, magazines and movies on compact disc in the Winthrop Public Library and up to 500 items are purchased each month. Last year 3,000 items were purchased.

Thomas O’Brien Jr. was the son of Thomas Sr. and Mary (McDonald) O’Brien. He was the dear brother of the late Louis, Donald and Paul O’Brien and he is survived by several cousins.  He is buried in the Winthrop Cemetery.

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