John B. "Jack" O'Brien, 87, of Portland and formerly of Peaks Island, died Saturday, April 14 at Maine Medical Center following a short illness.
Born in South Boston, Jack was the son of Francis and Helen (Rielly) O'Brien. He graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1947. Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps Military Police, honorably serving four years. Jack married Jadine Raynes on November 2, 1952 and they had two daughters, Joy and Jill.
Jack had three main loves in his life. He loved his family, his Irish heritage and the U.S. Marine Corps. His daughters called him a "softie" because he would grant their every wish. He traveled to Ireland several times and became more Irish every day ... talking with the sheepherders, the postmen, and the bar keeps. And, he always said there was no such thing as an "ex" Marine - once a Marine, always a Marine and he was proud of it.
Jack was a scratch golfer and enjoyed a good match. He also enjoyed living part of the year on Peaks Island and he swam regularly in the cool Atlantic waters. When presented with life’s dilemmas or other conundrums, Jack could often he heard replying “Not to worry, no worries” and things would work themselves out.
For a number of years, Jack worked in the car brokerage business in the Boston area. In 1957, he and his family moved to Portland. Jack worked at the Portland Post Office as a mail handler and served as President of the Mail Handlers Union as well as President of the union's New England District. He then returned to the automobile business and worked for a number of years for Jerry Waxman on Forest Ave. He eventually opened his own used car business in South Portland, which was noted for its large shamrock covered billboard.
Jack was a member of The American Legion and a life-long member of the Democratic Party and was a member of both the Portland City Democratic Committee and the Cumberland County Democratic Committee. He was also a delegate to numerous state conventions.
From 1970 to 1974, Jack was a member of the 105th and 106th Maine Legislatures. He served on the Business Legislation Committee where he earned the nickname "Jack the Giant Killer" for his tough-mindedness and combative nature when coming out swinging against special interest groups. One lobbyist for the insurance industry once said, "For goodness sake, Jack, why don't you take some time off so we can get a goodnight's sleep".
In June of 1992, Jack ran successfully to fill an unexpired term as Cumberland County Register of Deeds. He then was easily reelected in 1994, 1998, and 2002, serving in that office through 2006 for a total of fourteen years. Jack served as President of the Maine Register of Deeds Association and as Chair of its Legislative Committee. In 2008, Jack was called out of retirement to run for Cumberland County Register of Probate. He was twice elected and served through 2016 for a total of eight years.
Jack is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jadine of Portland; his daughter Jill and her husband, Peter Thiel of Peaks Island and their children Caitlin of Maynooth, Ireland and Robert of College Park, Georgia. Jack is also survived by his sister, Helen (O'Brien) Copello, sister-in-law, Peggy (Hynes) O'Brien, and numerous nieces and nephews. Jack was predeceased by his daughter Joy O'Brien, his brother Francis O'Brien, Jr., sister-in-law Edna (McPhee) O’Brien, and his brother Richard O'Brien.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 – 7:00 PM on Friday, April 20, 2018 at A.T. Hutchins Funeral Home, 660 Brighton Ave. A Funeral Mass will take place at 10:00 AM on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at St Joseph Catholic Church, 673 Stevens Ave. with interment following at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland.
Memorial donations may be made to: American Legion Randall-MacVane Post 142, P.O. Box 118, Peaks Island, ME 04108.