The community has lost a longtime public servant who dedicated her life to working on behalf of others.
Elaine O'Brien, a Suffield resident who was currently serving as state representative for her hometown, East Granby and Windsor, died Friday morning after a long and courageous battle against brain cancer. She was 58.
O'Brien leaves behind a husband, Justin Donnelly, and three children, John, Danny and Thomas, as well as a large extended family. Services have not been announced yet.
Her passing has prompted fellow legislators to share their memories and condolences about a well-respected colleague.
"Elaine never once talked about herself. She only wanted to know how others were doing, and to discuss issues at the Capitol and in her District," said state Rep. David Baram, D-15. "She was so brave, driven and optimistic. During her last few weeks, Elaine kept saying how lucky she was, to have have such a supportive family and so many friends. She cherished her very large family and her many friends. She missed being at the Capitol and at work. And especially to her constituents and friends in Windsor, Elaine never stopped thinking about you."
Malloy Orders Flags to Half-Staff
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy directed Connecticut flags to half-staff in honor of O’Brien.
“Elaine was a passionate legislator who dedicated much of her life to public service at the local and state levels, championing proposals to improve the health and safety of Connecticut citizens,” Malloy said. “Throughout her illness, she remained focused on the people of her district. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and constituents at this difficult time.”
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman added, “The General Assembly has lost an outstanding Representative who fought tirelessly to remain committed to the needs of her constituents — from families to small business owners to workers. Our hearts are broken today as we mourn her loss and reflect on her service.”
O’Brien was vice chair of the Appropriations Committee and served on the commerce and transportation committees in the General Assembly.
Elaine O'Brien's Biography
As told on her House Democrats web page:
Elaine O’Brien was first elected in 2010 to represent the 61st District, which includes Suffield, parts of East Granby, and parts of Windsor. As a resident of Suffield, Elaine has been involved in the local community for over 20 years, both as a member of local government and as a community volunteer.
As a mother of three boys, now grown, she first became involved in the school system as a member of the PTO and as a scout leader.
In 1991, she was elected to the Zoning and Planning Commission.
In 1993 she was elected to the Board of Education and served on that Board until 2005. While on the Board of Education she was chairman of the Facilities and Transportation Committee, and a member of the Policy Committee and Personnel Committee and a representative to the CREC Council.
Elaine has a BS from Pennsylvania State University in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Public Administration from Westfield State College.
Baram said she was a former pilot, too.
"May her last flight take her to a better place where Elaine can find eternal peace and happiness," he said.