Edith O’Brien, “Edie”, passed away on Jan 24, 2018 after a brief illness. She was surrounded by her family who had been with her at the Gosnell House since her arrival there on Jan 19. Edie lived a full life and had just celebrated her 93rd birthday on Jan 6 by going out for a steak dinner. She was a strong, brave, adventurous woman who lived independently for her entire life. No one who met her could believe that she was 93.
She was born Edith Eleanor Kelsen on Jan 6, 1925 to A. William & Lillian (Carlsen) Kelsen. She was predeceased by her husband, Robert E. O’Brien “Rob” in 2011 and by her siblings Virginia Rowland, Leona Duclos and Milo Kelsen.
Edie lived in South Portland all her life and graduated from South Portland High School where she was an excellent student and played clarinet in the band. She married her childhood sweetheart, Rob, and they raised their family in the Thornton Heights area. After Rob passed away in 2011, Edie moved to the Betsy Ross House and finally, last July, to 75 State Street. She made sure to tell people that she had an Independent Living apartment there and was not in the assisted living facility.
Edie adored animals and the family was never without a cat and at least one dog. In her later years when she could no longer care for a dog, she doted on her cat Ashley who lived to 17 and she leaves behind her beautiful cat “Ella”. She also got great pleasure from visiting her grand-pets, Greta, Max, Hoodie and Little Kitty.
Every day, Edie read the newspaper from front to back and then did the crossword puzzle. She loved to garden. She inherited a green thumb from her father and she had beautiful flower gardens all her life. She was also an accomplished seamstress and knitter, making most of our school clothes growing up and beautiful sweaters for us well into our adult years. She knit countless hats and mittens for charity organizations. She was a great cook as well and we will miss her baked beans, her awesome fish chowder and her Danish specialty, fricadilla.
She and Rob loved to go on road trips, anywhere from Florida to Quebec to Nebraska. Their son Terry was in the Air Force and they visited him wherever he was stationed.
Later on, they owned several motor homes that they filled with family and friends for trips to race tracks throughout the northeast. After attending the Daytona 500 in the early 1970’s, they began spending their winters in Daytona Beach, FL. They hosted many visits from their children and grandchildren while there. They continued to go to Daytona and tour the state of Florida until they were no longer able to make the drive. Even in her later years, Edie was always game for an adventure. She attended a Grateful Dead show in her 70’s, took the train to Boston for a ride on the Duck Boat in her 80’s and loved to go to Foxwood Casino with her daughter and son-in-law. In fact, we celebrated her 92nd birthday at Foxwood last year.
Edie had a huge heart and after caring for her husband until his passing, she found other folks that she could help. At Betsy Ross House, she befriended an older gentleman who had lost his sight, reading the daily newspaper to him and helping him get down to dinner on time. At 75 State Street, Edie, then 92, would assist one of her younger “80-something” friends to make the bus trip over to Mill Creek for shopping.
And Edie loved shopping! She had a penchant for clothes and jewelry; she was a sharp dresser and received frequent compliments on her outfits. More recently, she especially looked forward to going out with her daughters on a Saturday shopping trip. She was always searching for some elusive item which meant many trips to those favorites of seniors: Goodwill, Christmas Tree Shop and the Dollar Store!
Though she did work for short periods of time over the years, Edie was first and foremost a mother. She was devoted to her children and did whatever she could to help them and to make their lives easier. Her unconditional love knew no bounds and it was returned to her in full by her family and by those who knew her.
Edith is survived by son Terrance O’Brien of Crowley, TX, daughters Kathleen Kemna & husband Joe of Scarborough, ME, Francine Libby & husband George of Scarborough, ME, and Roberta Cahill & husband Bruce of Windham, ME, grandson Kevin O’Brien of Erie, CO, granddaughters Jennifer O’Brien of Owego, NY and Kristen Cremonese of Buxton, ME, and 3 great-grandsons and a great-granddaughter.
Her family would like to thank the staff at Maine Medical Center, especially the R9 nurses, and the staff and volunteers at the Gosnell House for their amazing and compassionate care of Edie.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Edie’s memory to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, to the Maine Wildlife Park or to an animal welfare organization of your choice.
A celebration of life for our beloved mother Edie will be held in the spring when the flowers are in bloom.