Alexander “Alex” Jarot O’Brien

A celebration of life for Alexander O’Brien, 21, Lawrence will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, March 10, 2018 at Grace Community Church 310 E. 8th Street Overbrook, KS 66524. He ran into the loving, open arms of his sweet Savior on Monday, March 5, 2018 surrounded by his parents, sister, aunt and pastors at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS.

Alexander was born June 5, 1996 in Lawrence, KS the son of Patrick Andrew and Crystal Dawn (Bell) O’Brien. The day he entered the world was quite stormy. Over 8 inches of rain fell, and he was born during an active tornado warning.

He was an exemplary student. He attended Broken Arrow Elementary and South Junior High; he graduated from Lawrence High School in 2014 as a class Valedictorian. During high school, he participated in choir, National Honor Society, FYI Club, Aviation Club, and Can We Talk. During his senior year, he was a manager for the Varsity Football and Varsity Softball teams. He chose to manage the softball team so he could be his sister’s number one fan. He received many academic awards and scholarships. At the time of his passing, he was studying Aerospace Engineering and was set to graduate in spring 2019.

Alex attended Grace Community Church in Overbrook his entire life. He was an active member and participated in the Children’s Ministries, VBS, and Youth Group as he was growing up. He volunteered in many ministry projects as a teenager and participated in summer camps.

Alex’s hobbies and interests included planes, trains, John Deere tractors, firetrucks, music, and KU sports. For 12 years he spent one week at MDA summer camp. He went to 3 retreats at the FUSE foundation, a camp for adults with neuromuscular disease. Alex was the MDA Kansas Goodwill Ambassador when he was 10 years old. He made many lifelong friends, and his life was forever impacted by those he encountered.

He is survived by his parents, Patrick and Crystal O’Brien; sister, Sydney O’Brien; paternal grandparents, Wayne and Joann O’Brien, Overbrook, KS; aunts, Kimberly O’Brien, Lawrence, and Kim (Roger) Davis, Scranton , KS; and his loyal service dog, Romeo. He is also survived by many great aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his aunts, Carmen Bell and Jamie Ullery, and his maternal grandparents, Burt and Sandy Bell.

The family will greet friends from 5:00-7:00 pm Friday, March 9, 2018 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.

The family suggests honoring Alex by wearing their KU attire to both the visitation and his Celebration of Life.

Memorial contributions may be made in his honor to KSDS Assistance Dogs of Washington, KS or the FUSE Foundation of Dodge City, KS. These may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.

24 Condolences

  1. George Blake on March 6, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Gone Too Soon.

    I am Staff Support for Aerospace Engineering. I assisted Dr. Keshmiri’s AE-245 class, Introduction to Aerospace Engineering, by teaching electronics and avionics. Part of the course involves drawing diagrams, wiring, soldering, etc. I met Alex teaching this class. What an inspiration he was. He wanted to learn and do things and his disabilities were not going to hold him back. I am proud to have assisted him in his goals.

    I always looked for him whenever I was in Learned Hall. he would stop and we would briefly chat while I would pet his service dog. I always tried to remember a treat for his dog.

    Many people waste their lives not trying to achieve their goals. Here is a young man, cut short in life, who reached out and tried to take in every moment and be the best he could be.

    Alex will be missed and remembered. May his service dog live on and help others as he did for Alex.

  2. Jaclyn Anderson on March 6, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    I worked with Alex at KU. Alex was a delight to be around. And so very bright! An amazing young man who touched many lives. I will never forget him.

  3. Channette Alexander on March 7, 2018 at 8:21 am

    I too will miss Alex. He had a great sense of humor. I often helped him scan projects in the Spahr Library. He will be missed.

  4. Trisha Strimple on March 7, 2018 at 9:03 am

    It was honor to meet this young man. I can recall those times of him speeding out of the school running a few toes over. I loved to pick on him give him high fives. He will be greatly miss. Fly high Alex.

  5. Hillary Johnson (attendant on bus 145) on March 7, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Crystal, Patrick and Sydney,

    I have no idea where to start. Alex was an amazing kid with the big heart. I can remember him singing “Gangnam Style” or “We Are Never Getting Back Together” on the bus at the top of his lungs. Or the time I told him he was stuck on the bus, because the wheelchair lift wouldn’t go down. Then there was the time his chair wasn’t working right and I pushed him all the way into the High School.
    One thing is for sure he touched my life and made me see that no matter what life throws at you, stand up and take it, because it too short to worry about every little detail. He lived an amazing life with the support of you all and never letting him take no for answer. He is very inspirational and hope you will always remember the good times and what an amazing blessing is was for me as well as other that have met him. I’m so sorry for your loss.
    Prayer! Rest easy Alex!

  6. TRINITY IN HOME CARE INC on March 7, 2018 at 10:04 am

    We at Trinity In-Home Care will miss Alex. We provided services for him. We are shocked and saddened by the news. Thinking of his family.

  7. Akshay Basavaraj on March 7, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Alex is one of the kind hearted, inspiration souls I met in LEEP 2. He was one of the few people who would provide me company in the G400 design lab during the vacations. His “never give up” attitude will be missed. Although I was a graduate student, I looked up to Alex because despite his disability, he had the “engineering spirit” in him. A truly wonderful soul will be missed.

  8. Amelia Newman on March 7, 2018 at 10:59 am

    I am so deeply sorry to hear of Alex’s passing. He was such a wonderful person to work with and leaves behind an amazing family who stopped at nothing to help him succeed. He took everything that life had to offer, and handled challenges with such dignity. Crystal, Patrick, and Sydney, my heart and prayers go out to you.

  9. George Blake on March 7, 2018 at 11:27 am

    “Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds –
    and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of –
    wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
    Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along
    and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

    “Up, up the long delirious burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
    where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
    and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
    the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

  10. Mariya on March 7, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I remember sitting in front of Alex during circuits class and on days I packed a good lunch – Romeo the dog would be very friendly and come up and try to get my attention. I thought he just wanted a good head scratch, and Alex and I used to talk about him and I’d just be smiling at Alex telling him that his dog wasn’t bothering me, rather they both made my day much better just being there. You’ll be missed for sure man, I hope God is shining down on you and your family right now.

  11. Max on March 7, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    I remember we took Dr. Depcik’s thermo together. He usually sat next to me. I would help him get his notebook out from his backpack. One time, I put his raincoat on him. I would pet his service dog sometimes. Alex was such an inspiration. I was always amazed by how tough, how amazing he was. I will never forget you.

  12. Dareon Allen on March 7, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Alex Use To Ride My Bus He Lived Out Of Town.So We Would Go To His House & He Would Come Out The Garage Every Morning Happy & Excited.He Was A Real Joy To Be Around.

  13. Leonard & Marcia Atchison on March 7, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    We were very saddened to hear of your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. May the peace and comfort of the Lord be with you all.

  14. Kelley Kinder on March 7, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Patrick, Crystal and Sydney, I am so very saddened to hear of Alex’s passing. What a light he had, always a joy to be around. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  15. Brandi McNish on March 7, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    So very sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers go out to you all.
    Much love,
    The McNish family
    Tom, Brandi and Andrew

  16. Lew Carpenter on March 7, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    I always looked forward to saving a spot for Alex and his dog at KU games. It always made my day knowing that he deserved his courtside seats. What a joy it has been knowing him. prays to his family. God bless.

  17. Ethan Finberg on March 7, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    My heart sank when I first read this but then I remember all those times Alex and I sat down together and sometimes shared meals, and discussed his faith in The Lord; great memories. My fondest memory of Alex: though very shy, he argued, with a man sitting near him, about the importance of his faith in Jesus, and the God he believed in! It was very bold but Alex was a warrior for the Lords and was not shaken by another opinion. Alex will be missed but I am confident in his salvation in Jesus Christ. When it is my time to fly away, I know I will see Alex again.

  18. Lawrence on March 7, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Alex is a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ in the truest sense of the word. Truly a soldier in God’s army and a blessing in my life. He made this world a better place indeed.

  19. Andy Fry on March 7, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Alex’s family lives across the street from us, so we got to see Alex regularly over the past 11 years. We will really mis seeing him out walking his service dog, Romeo, around the neighborhood. I would occasionally go over to his house to help Alex when his family was not home. During these visits I saw how hard Alex was working on his studies, but I also got to know him better as we would have good opportunities to just talk. I will truly miss these visits and his smiling face. We know Alex has gone on to a better place, and our whole family feels blessed for having Alex be part of our lives. We love you Alex!

  20. Dwayne Dunn on March 7, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    Was heartbroken to hear of Alex’s passing, but smiled as I remembered all the good times he brought to our choral program. He was a remarkable young man who I feel privileged to have shared some life together at LHS. I will keep all of you in my prayers.

  21. Kathy Stuntz on March 8, 2018 at 10:53 am

    So sorry. A special star was born on Monday for an extraordinary young man. I was blessed to have had Alex in my Biology class at South. He was determined to be involved with every aspect of class, labs, field trips, nothing stopped him, and he NEVER complained or asked for special privileges If only the other students had Alex’s passion for learning. My favorite story about Alex…he had a new wheelchair, and asked me to call on him in class, in fact he was adamant. So I called on him, and he pushed a button and his chair went up high. He commented…see I can stand up with a huge laugh! Another one….we were traveling to the park by school, and I worried how Alex was going to handle the terrain. Typical Jr. High ornery student, he went really fast just to make me panic. He got a chuckle out of that particular moment. He will forever be one of my most favorite students. Thank you Alex for sharing your life with me. May God Bless you.

  22. Diane Ash on March 8, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    Thank you, Alex for leaving me with four years of memories of you in FYI Club at LHS! Yes, you did indeed hold the record for the most brownies consumed in one club meeting! And let’s not forget the overnight leadership retreat at Tall Oaks in Linwood, where you were the first to volunteer for the “tilting raft” challenge…you wanted to be the person who stayed in the middle of the raft while everyone else had to figure a way to get off of it without tilting it so far to the side that you would roll off! You smiled for 90 minutes straight while everyone else struggled to figure out how to do it! There were students there from other high schools who didn’t know you and they kept whispering “he’s not even scared”….and you truly weren’t. You just trusted the process and enjoyed each moment, a precious lesson about life that you taught everyone that day.
    Patrick and Crystal, thank you for sharing your beautiful son with all of us–yes, he was his own person yet it was clear he reflected your deep love and confidence in his abilities.
    Aunt Kim, you loved him so and encouraged him to learn and grow.
    Sydney, yes you were lucky to have Alex for a brother but wow, did he hit the jackpot when he got you for a sister.
    Look out angels, here comes the heart of a Lion on the wings of a Jayhawk.
    I love you, Alex.

  23. Phil George on March 9, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I was heartbroken to hear about Alex. Alex was so lucky to have such a wonderful, supportive, loving family. I could just feel the love exuding in the room being around you all. I hope you all find peace in knowing that he has been made whole again and is no longer fighting. I am praying for your whole family for comfort during this difficult time.

  24. Sasha Alm on March 30, 2018 at 11:33 am


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