Tillicum lost another of its leaders in the recent death of Pat O’Brien.
Perhaps my favorite story of those we swapped by phone over the years, and again in the waning days at his bedside, was the opportunity he had to set aside the standard requirements that had been imposed by the school in order to allow a star athlete to play. Pat O’Brien refused.
It was the late-Stephen Covey, American educator, author, businessman and keynote speaker whose most popular book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” described in affect the fiber – more like fine steel – comprising Pat O’Brien’s wherewithal, not to mention spine.
Covey’s “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” – one of Covey’s “10 Quotes That Can Change Your Life” – was O’Brien’s ‘keep principle principal,’ an inviolable rule that seemed to rule his life.
It was Pat O’Brien who led the way in securing the services of an attorney to assist the relatively poor Tillicum community in a protracted legal battle opposing – at the same time – the ultimately successful attempt by both the City of Lakewood and the Washington National Guard at Camp Murray to relocate the latter’s main entry gate thus rerouting employee traffic through the heart of the residential neighborhood.
Of the upwards of $20,000 the community was out-of-pocket to have its day in court, my guess is a good portion came from Pat O’Brien.
It was Pat O’Brien – along now with many others that have since followed his lead – that understood the importance of local Tillicum youth playing baseball to which purpose he contributed financially.
It was Pat O’Brien who would call – even in those last days – and ask what was happening in his community and, in particular, how things were with my own immediately family.
“Teamwork,” reads the notecards on my desk: “together we achieve more.”
A community always – always – if it’s to be revitalized, with the best revitalization occurring from the inside out, with those who actually live in the community rolling up their sleeves or contributing from their financial resources – depends on principled leaders like Pat O’Brien.