Dick was born Johnnie Richard O’Brien on May 31, 1933 to parents Louise Bell and Tennyson Truett (TT) O’Brien in San Antonio, Texas. The family moved to Houston when Dick was 6 years old where he developed a love for baseball. While growing up, he spent much of his time with his brother, Keith, at the Houston Buffaloes (Buffs) stadium watching minor league baseball. They worked as bat boys, water boys, sold popcorn and peanuts, and worked in the Buffs equipment room. They lived near the stadium and happily walked the eight blocks to participate and watch the games. Dick also loved visiting and summer vacationing in Baird, Texas with his family, especially his Bell family cousins.
After graduation from Stephen F. Austin High School, Dick attended Wharton Jr. College where he played baseball and later attended Sam Houston University where he met and married Shirley Taylor. He earned both a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. Dick scouted, coached, taught, and counseled at various schools throughout his career including San Augustine, Lufkin, Jasper, and eventually Beaumont schools. He worked at Fehl, Pietzch, and Amelia Elementary, as well as South Park and Forest Park High Schools. After retiring, he continued teaching Physical Education at Cathedral in the Pines School in Beaumont. It was this job where he developed a passion in supporting Children’s Special Olympics.
Dick was a longtime resident of the Beaumont and Lumberton areas. He attended various churches including Woodland Baptist, First Baptist Beaumont, First Baptist Loeb, Westgate Baptist, and Wesley United Methodist. He supported his family with teaching and contract painting after school hours, on weekends, and during summer breaks.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents, Louise Bell and Tennyson Truett (TT) O’Brien, and brother Keith O’Brien, all of Houston, Texas. He is survived by his children, daughter Kim (Keith) McGee of Denton, TX, son Taylor O’Brien of Austin, TX, son David O’Brien of Franklin, TN, , grandson Michael (Mallory) McGee and great-grandson Reddin McGee of Dallas, TX, and granddaughter Katie (Ian) Harber of Denton, TX.
A life honoring memorial service will be held on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at Lumberton Family Funeral Home 766 S. Main St, Lumberton, TX 77657. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions may be made to Special Olympics or the American Cancer Society.