Gordon Thomas O'Brien of Hotchkiss, formerly of Delta, died Tuesday, July 14, 2015, at the Colorado State Veterans Living Center in Rifle. He was 87.
He was born in Richmond, Calif., June 4, 1928, to Raymond and Helen (Alexander) O'Brien. Because his father was in the U.S. Army Air Corps, the family lived all around the country.
In 1944, at the age of 16, Mr. O'Brien joined the Merchant Marines. He became the base boxing champion.
After World War II, he moved to Ouray with his parents where he completed high school. He attended Mesa State College. He continued his boxing career and attended Idaho State College on a boxing scholarship. In 1953 he was Colorado's Golden Gloves middleweight boxing champion.
He married Derelyse Roatcap.
Mr. O'Brien served in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a major. He was trained as an air traffic controller and served at bases around the world before being deployed to Vietnam. After retirement, he served as the veterans affairs officer for Delta County for 24 years.
He was an active member of Delta Elks Lodge #1235, American Legion Post #65 and Lee Marts VFW Post #3571. He traveled on the Honor Flight to visit the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.
Mr. O'Brien enjoyed helping veterans, providing rides from Delta to the Veterans Hospital in Grand Junction, scuba diving, ranching and teaching boxing to Hotchkiss youth. He was a private airplane pilot.
Mr. O'Brien is survived by his wife of 64 years, Derelyse O'Brien; three sons, Kevin (Angel) O'Brien of Denver, Kelly (Karen) O'Brien of Delta and Terry O'Brien of Golden; a daughter, Kathi (John) McCombs of Hotchkiss; two brothers, Roger O'Brien and Maylon O'Brien; a sister, Geraldine Rodfong; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by three brothers, Raymond, Terry and Earl.
Graveside services will be at 3 p.m., Friday, July 24, at Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Grand Junction with the Grand Valley Combined Honor Guard officiating. Inurnment will follow.
Taylor Funeral Service and Crematory is handling the arrangements.
View the Internet obituary and sign the online guest registry at taylorfuneralservice.com.
Thanks to the efforts of state Rep. Millie Hamner, House District 61, Colorado State University plans to re-open the Rogers Mesa research site.
The facility was taken out of operation in 2011, due to budget cuts throughout the CSU system.