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Front Page » August 5, 2010 » Senior Focus » Long time Price resident continues to be active at 90
Published 1,849 days ago

Long time Price resident continues to be active at 90

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Sun Advocate reporter

Ann O'Brien, 90, Price, has seen and experienced a lot along her life journey which ultimately brought her to Price.

O'Brien was born in Dawson, N.M. in 1920 to her parents who immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia. The family ran a boarding house in Dawson that catered to miners in the area.

At the age of 10, O'Brien came to Utah to assist her sister after she had some surgery. Growing up and living in the area she eventually finished her schooling locally when she graduated from Carbon High School in 1938.

O'Brien said she remembers growing up and seeing Price at that time busy with all of the coal mining going on in the area. "There was coal mining, clear up the canyons, that were full of miners working in the mines," O'Brien said.

With high school finished, O'Brien went to Salt Lake City where she enrolled in Stevens-Henager College. There she studied business with the aspiration of becoming a secretary. Her learning of short hand writing would help her with job opportunities later down the road, she said.

O'Brien left school and landed a job working at Cudahy Packing Company in Salt Lake City. There she worked as a secretary for the meat packing company for about eight years.

During her time in Salt Lake City, O'Brien got married to her husband Harold, who served in the Navy during World War II. Harold was stationed in New York City and O'Brien made the decision to move to the big city to be with him.

For the next year, O'Brien experienced all that the big city had to offer. She was able to find work as a secretary for the government working with the Quartermaster Corp on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

But for someone who grew up in small towns her whole life, the big city life wasn't something she enjoyed immensely.

"I didn't like living there very much," O'Brien said. "Finding my way around was hard when I was on the subway. It certainly was different living and working in New York compared to Utah."

When Harold was discharged from the Navy, the couple moved back to Salt Lake City where O'Brien went back to previous job at Cudahy Packing Company. Happy to be back in a familiar place, O'Brien and Harold decided to start a family and soon she became pregnant. When some complications arose, O'Brien handed in her notice and decided to move to Price to be closer to family. Months later she gave birth to her first son, Doug. Five years later she gave birth to another son, David.

O'Brien's marriage with Harold was rocky as they were married and divorced twice, she said. With no child support, O'Brien and her two sons lived with very little, but were able to learn valuable life lessons in the process.

"I'm very thankful for my children," she said. "They've earned their own way in life and they've done very well."

O'Brien was working as a secretary for several local attorneys when she decided to run for the position of recorder for Carbon County in 1962. She eventually won the vote and spent nine consecutive terms totaling 36 years as the county recorder. The only time she was opposed happened when she first ran for office, she said. Her main reason in running for the position was simple. "I wasn't getting any child support and it paid a lot more than my other job," she said.

In addition to her job as county recorder, O'Brien started working in 1976 with Price River Water Users where she is still working at today. She spends her time taking care of the office, changing certificates and taking down the minutes at the monthly meetings. Despite her age, O'Brien still works in the office three days a week for about three hours each day.

O'Brien recently celebrated her 90th birthday on July 27. Her granddaughter, Danielle, planned a surprise birthday party for her inviting family from all over to celebrate the occasion. The surprise worked very well, O'Brien said.

"I was completely surprised and it was such a shock," she said. "It was the biggest surprise of my life. She (Danielle) did so much that I'm surprised that no one leaked anything out about the party."

O'Brien said no one in her family has ever reached the age of 90. Last year she had back surgery which kept her out of action for about six weeks, she said. Since then she has kept active by using an exercise bike in her living room up to two times a day.

"I'm surprised I've reached this age because I don't feel 90," she said. "You have your aches and pains but you have to accept that."

O'Brien has lived in the same house since she arrived in Price. The house has been remodeled multiple times, according to O'Brien. "I'm comfortable living here, I like it," she said.

In the area she lives in South Price, there used to be lots of open land nearby but now the area is attracting a subdivision and other homes that are being built along the street.

"Sixty years ago is a long time but it's changed a lot since then," she said.

Now in her free time she likes working on puzzles and reading mystery novels. In the house is a pile of books waiting to be read, she said. Family is also close by as her son Doug lives just down the street and his business, O'Brien Engine and Machine is right next to her home. David's business, O'Brien Plumbing and Heating, is also located in Price.

As for her future, O'Brien said she will continue to work as long as she can before finally stepping aside.

"It's good for me just getting out of the house. And after working your whole life like me, you don't want to quit your job and stop working," she said.

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