Esther O'Brien

Obituary of Esther O'Brien

Esther Lee O'Brien, age 96, of Painted Post, NY, passed away on Monday, April 23, 2018 at Fred and Harriett Taylor Health Center, Bath, NY.

Esther, or Lee as most knew her, was born on January 11, 1922 in Elmira, NY, the daughter of the late Earl and Orla (Inksater) Sterling. From 1945 to 1968 Lee was married to the late Douglas G. O'Brien Sr. of Corning. They spent the first five years of their marriage living in Japan while Mr. O'Brien was still in the military and later working for the State Department, then a few years in the Washington DC area before deciding to return to Corning in 1955. Lee worked as a homemaker raising her children, then from 1966 to 1972 as the Director of Volunteers at Corning Hospital. In 1973 she moved to San Antonio, TX, to live near her sister and brother. In 1985 Lee moved to Annapolis, MD, where she was primarily devoted to helping care for her grandchildren. Then in 2000 Lee returned to Corning again, eventually settling in Painted Post.

Throughout her life, in all the places she lived, and all the paths on which she walked, Lee dedicated most of her time and energy to the service of others, whether through her family life, her occupational pursuits, or her volunteer activities. She was a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Corning, and for several years engaged in a multitude of endeavors connected to the church and to the greater Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. Everyone who knew Lee was captivated by her wit, warm heart, and generous spirit.

She is survived by her two sons: Douglas O'Brien (Catherine) of Lancaster, PA, and Alexander (Lex) O'Brien (Christine) of Takoma Park, MD; four grandchildren: Heather O'Brien Wagner (Brian), and Trevor (Jess), Tucker, and Matilda O'Brien; three great grandchildren: Keira and Addy Wagner, and Claire O'Brien; as well as extended family members: daughter-in-law Gretta Tomb, and her sons William and Joseph Jacobs. She loved her family most of all, and was in turn loved dearly by all of them. She will be greatly missed.

Private services will be held at the convenience of the family. Burial will take place in the family plot in Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira, NY. Phillips Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 17 W. Pulteney St., Corning has been entrusted with the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Lee O'Brien's memory may be made to Corning Meals on Wheels, 144 Cedar Street, Corning, NY 14830, or online at

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