Obituary: Shawn O’Brien

Shawn O’Brien

NAUGATUCK — Shawn O’Brien, 61, of Naugatuck, passed peacefully in his home on Aug. 30, 2021.

Shawn is survived by his three children, Michelle (Jeff) Denninger, Jeffrey O’Brien and Kimberly O’Brien; and his faithful canine, Paddington. Shawn predeceased his parents, John and Barbara O’Brien; as well as his sister, Colleen O’Brien, and brother, Christopher (Vera) O’Brien, and their three children, Chris (Marie) O’Brien and their daughter, Carleigh, Shannon O’Brien and Cody O’Brien. Shawn also spent many years creating a life with Donna Richard O’Brien.

Shawn worked hard his whole life to provide for his family. He graduated from Naugatuck High School in 1978, and then furthered his education at the University of New Haven in 1983. He went on to work for General DataComm, while attending night classes to complete his master’s degree. He spent many years loyal to Corbin Russwin/Assa Abloy. Most recently he went on to work for Tracey Energy, where his work colleagues described him as larger than life, and said they will remember him as “the happy Shawn.” His coworkers could not be more correct.

Shawn was very passionate about refereeing for the Western Connecticut Football Officials Association, which he did for almost 40 years. He became a member of the hall of fame in 2015. He served for many years refereeing the annual Thanksgiving Naugatuck-Ansonia football game and loved the rivalry. He would jokingly tell his nephew Chris, an Ansonia football player, that he could “give no special treatment!!” But we all knew it gave him such joy to see Chris out on the field. Shawn was a great example for all of the football players he worked with. He valued sportsmanship and a fair game far more than he did the need to win, and was known to chat with the players about the importance of honesty in the game. He was always rooting for the underdog.

Shawn was also an avid weather fanatic. He had an adventurous spirit and dreamed of chasing the perfect storm in his retirement. Any time there was a storm set for New England, Shawn would text his kids along with his nieces and nephews to see if they were prepared for — in his words — a meteorological bomb.

Shawn was beloved by many and will be deeply, deeply missed. He was extremely generous and kind, he cherished quality time with family and friends, and always knew how to put a smile on their faces with his sense of humor. His kids will remember him as he would have wanted — belting out the incorrect lyrics to a song in the car at the top of his lungs, in the dead heat of summer on the way to the beach to check out the hurricane that’s brewing, and trying to convince them he “could have been famous.” Well, in all of our hearts, you always will be. We miss you Dad.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St Francis of Assisi Church, 318 Church St., Naugatuck, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. Everyone attending is asked to please meet at church. Burial will follow at Saint James Cemetery, Cross Street, Naugatuck. Please join the family over lunch to remember Shawn at Jesse Camille’s Restaurant, 615 North Church St., Naugatuck. There are no calling hours and arrangements have been entrusted to the Buckmiller Thurston Mengacci Funeral Home, 82 Fairview Ave., Naugatuck.

In lieu of flowers and to honor Shawn’s memory, please make a donation to the Shawn O’Brien WCFOA scholarship fund, in care of the Western Connecticut Football Officials Association, c/o Mark Noss, 29 Walnut Terrace, Naugatuck, CT 06770; please note on the memo line, Shawn O’Brien Scholarship.

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