Dennis O’Brien

April 16, 1951 - January 31, 2020

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O’Brien, Dennis loving brother of Kathleen (Fred) Przybysz and Julie Ann O’Brien-Reno (Donald Reno). Dear uncle of Dr. Aaron (Christine) Przybysz, Andrea (Allison) Glinka Przybysz, Lucas Reno and Sean Reno. Great uncle of Charlotte and Caroline Przybysz. Loving companion of James Papin. Dennis was a teacher and faculty member for greater than 40 years at St. Xavier High School. He was a community activist for the beautification on the Clifton Heights Community. Dennis passed away on January 31, 2020 at the age of 68. Memorial visitation will be held at Saint Xavier High School, 600 West North Bend Rd., 45224 on Saturday, February, 8 from 10 AM until memorial mass at 11 AM. Donations may be made to St. Xavier High School in Dennis’ name. Condolences at


Donald Reno - Feb 10, 2020
I am the husband of Dennis's dear sister Julie and I am humbled by the O'Brien family. It has been an extraordinary experience to be part of their family.
Mark M Wilkins - Feb 8, 2020
To the family of Dennis O' Brien; It was with great sadness that I heard that Dennis had taken so ill and then succumbed to it so quickly. Dennis and I were together every day in the cafeteria during the first lunch period for, at least, 20 years until I retired in 2018. Two of my thoughts of him were that he hated to see any boy eating alone in the room. While most only noticed the noise and the chaos of over 700 teenage boys eating in the room, he saw the ones that were ignored or marginalized. He would observe the situation to make sure that it was not random or isolated, then he would approach the young man and gradually figure out how to follow up with the young man. While I would be more focused on the noise and the problems, Dennis would help me see the quiet and the lonely. The few years he became more and more attentive to the food that was wasted, particularly by the kids who carried a packed lunch. There was a significant amount of uneaten sandwiches and fruits left behind or pitches every day. He brought it to my attention and then we would "glean" the lunch bags we found for leftovers. He created a small space in the cafeteria trophy case for the uneaten PBJ or unwanted apple to be placed so that another might have something to eat. It was a very small gesture, but one that influenced me a lot. The online comments I have received on Facebook concerning Dennis as a classroom teacher have focused on creative, passionate and nurturing. He was easy going, but only because he saw that you can't force creativity. Finally, he was a trusted resource as a member of the Faculty Association. He and I were elected officers serving together many times over our overlapping 40 years at STX. He was always forthright and insightful while being sensitive to (what I will call) administrator BS. He may have been influenced by Francis Xavier but he was grounded by Francis of Assisi. He always wanted the least of the brothers and sisters to be taken care of first. While we had very little contact outside of the cafeteria, he influenced me in more ways than most other did on a day to day basis. I hope someone shows you the cafeteria today. It a big, cold room when it is empty. Dennis tried to bring some warmth to it every day. Withe deepest regrets, Mark M. Wilkins
Julie Niehaus - Feb 8, 2020
Heartfelt condolences to family and loved ones of Mr.O'Brien. He created a space where his students felt loved, respected, and welcomed. He taught my son not only art skills, but affirmed his love of art, his identiry as an artist, and created an environment where students felt free to express themselves through their art. Mr. O'Brien's lessons on life, and stories and life experiences shared with his students, were in value of equal measure to the shaping of student craft. I am forever grateful that my son was blessed to have been his student.
Matt Liddy - Feb 7, 2020
Mr. O'Brien was my art teacher in 1999 and 2000. His sculpture class that he had at St. X (which was in a converted garage at the time I believe) was one of my favorites. He was always one of the funniest (mostly smart ass) teachers that I had and kept his students on their toes! Always making fun of the students who's art was terrible was hilarious. All kidding aside he created a fun and loving atmosphere in his classroom and I wanted to reach out to let you all know how excellent he really way. Mr. O'Brien, I'm praying for you and your family. With all the love in the world! - Matt Liddy '00 - The Long Blue Line
Maureen France - Feb 7, 2020
My condolences to the O'Brien family. We have lost a great friend, a gifted teacher, a talented artist and a lifelong community activist. Dennis and I served both on the C.U.F. (Clifton Heights, University Heights, Fairview) Neighborhood Association and the C.U.F. Community Fund which administered grants for neighborhood improvements. He was President of the Fund for 21 years, stepping down in 2019. During his term, he grew the Fund with smart investments and funded significant projects throughout the community. Dennis and I were also members of the Tree Board. Dennis's neighbor Paul Gallagher, a retired fireman and admitted "Tree Nut"has led this effort for nearly 40 years. Dennis and many dedicated neighbors are responsible for planting hundreds, now thousands of trees in our community. Many of those are "sidewalk trees" where Paul, Dennis, John Wood and Truman Toland cut tree holes in the concrete sidewalks to allow for tree planting. Once they were hammering the concrete and broke a water line. They had to move the location of the hole and pay to have the line repaired. Dennis has left an indelible mark on our community and on the hundreds of students that he taught at St. Xavier High School. As a professor in DAAP (Design, Architecture, Art and Planning) I have taught many of his former students in the Graphic Design Program. They all say what a a great teacher he was and that he was largely responsible for them pursuing art and design in college and in their careers. Dennis was a kind, funny, creative and generous man. All of us who were fortunate enough to know him, know that the world was a better place when he was with us. May God Bless
Kurran Bishop - Feb 6, 2020
Thankful for the great memories and inspiration in sculpture and art class over 25 years ago. I recall Mr. Obrien teaching our sculpture class in a garage but it was perfect space to get our hands dirty. Praying for the family and those closest to him.
Michele Mascari - Feb 6, 2020
Comfort and strength to Dennis’s family and loved friends. We worked together for 33 years at St. Xavier in the Fine Arts department. Thank you, Dennis for your friendship, your humor and laughter, your artistic expression, the numerous students you affect so positively in your art classes and as a caring mentor. You are missed, always. Rest now, and know you are loved.
Donny Tillotson - Feb 6, 2020
Godspeed Mr. O'Brien. Thank you for the art.
Dan Conners '95 - Feb 6, 2020
Mr. O'Brien was a fantastic teacher. I was fortunate enough to be part of the MO'B Squad my freshman and senior year. Mr. O'Brien gave me confidence, made me feel welcome and encouraged creativity. Wishing his family my condolences during this time.
Scott Dressman - Feb 6, 2020
Mr. O’Brien was the kindest man. He helped me through yearbook even though I was not the most studious yearbook editor.He was always kind. Not many people are like that. He will be missed and he was a great teacher.
Phil Co - Feb 6, 2020
Mr O’Brien was my first art teacher at St X. He constantly gave me encouragement and confidence and that’s why I eventually chose my career path in art and design. He was one of my favorite teachers in high school. I know he influenced many students throughout the years and we are all grateful to him.
Michael Haug - Feb 6, 2020
Dennis O’Brien has been one of my most important teachers. With his guidance, encouragement and humor the Art Room was my favorite place in high school (graduated 1990). He, along with Mary Ann Meyer, contributed significantly to my growth as a creative person and my career as a landscape architect. With Gratitude and Fondness…
Beth Gunderson - Feb 5, 2020
Our family was very sorry to learn of Mr. O'Brien's passing. Two of my sons were in his drawing class and loved him. My oldest told me Mr. O'Brien was his favorite teacher at St. X. Our condolences to his family and friends. May he rest in eternal peace.
Tony - Feb 5, 2020
I graduated St. X in 1990. Dennis gave me the confidence to pursue a career in art and design. He also met with my left brained parents to comfort them that a career in art and design was a good fit. He was right and I have the many wonderful years since as a designer to thank him for. May you find peace Dennis O’Brien. With gratitude, Tony Schmidt ‘90.
Mike Rodmaker '08 - Feb 5, 2020
I'm very sorry to hear about Dennis O'Brien's passing. One of my favorite teachers early in my time at St. X, Mr. O'Brien had a wonderful sense of humor and taught us early not to bring our BS into the classroom, but he was also kind and supportive. I'm very thankful for all of his years of service to the school and to thousands of students in that time. He will be missed and remembered by many.
David Lankes - Feb 5, 2020
I was Mr. O'Brien's student at St. X from 1984-1988. As an art student, and an aspiring illustrator, the art studio was a serious part of my life. Mr. O'Brien was always there to help, mentor, and talk to. In a very real way he is the reason I was able to graduate. I am so sorry that he has left us and I send my condolences to the family. Know that his spirit, memory, and work will continue on in a whole generation of students that were lucky enough to have him as their teacher.
Michael Smithson ('86) - Feb 5, 2020
Dennis was a wonderful mentor and teacher and will be sorely missed. A self portrait I drew in his art class hangs in my home and will serve as a fond reminder of Dennis for me.
Chris Kraft - Feb 5, 2020
Dennis was a great teacher and mentor. While I never studied in one of his classes, I spent so much time in the St X art rooms that I chatted with him quite often. I greatly appreciated his real talk, advice, and dry sense of humor. Rest in peace, O.B.
Luke Wetterau '89 - Feb 5, 2020
Thank you Dennis (and Mary Ann) for inspiring me to follow my passion, I have lived a great life because of you. - Creativity Takes Courage
Ryan Balzer - Feb 5, 2020
RIP Mr. O'Brien. One of my favorite, and certainly most memorable art teachers - I still have all of art Mr. O inspired me to create, and most of it hangs on the walls of my home and always will. A fitting tribute to a talented and funny teacher, you will be missed!
David Quinn - Feb 5, 2020
I have fond memories of the guidance and encouragement I received from Dennis in art class. He helped spark a fire in me that led me on a wonderful career path. Fare thee well Mr. O'Brien and thank you.
Peter Fritz - Feb 5, 2020
Dennis was an extraordinary educator and mentor whom I (now a professor myself!) admire greatly. I first took a class with him at St. X 24 years ago. The great memories remain. He encouraged me to pursue my art throughout my time at St. X. I still do. Thank you, and may peace be upon you, Dennis.
Joe Hausfeld - Feb 5, 2020
Dennis, in collaboration with Mary Ann Meyer, taught me to love art. They also nurtured and honed my ability. Dennis was one of my most influential teachers . He was loved by his students and will be missed.
Mary Ann Meyer - Feb 5, 2020
I shared office space and classroom space with Dennis for over 30 years. He was a kind and empathetic teacher, loved by the students whose lives he touched. My heart is heavy as I wish you peace, Dennis.