Carnations 4
Official Obituary of

Mary Kathryn (Schwarz) O'Brien

October 22, 1924 ~ February 2, 2024 (age 99) 99 Years Old

Mary O'Brien Obituary

"Seafair Mom"

Mary O'Brien passed away peacefully in her home on the morning of February 2nd, surrounded by family.

Mary was born in Hillman City, Seattle on October 22, 1924, to parents Ella and Frank Schwarz, the youngest of five children, and resided in Rainier Valley all her life. Raised in an Austrian household, Mary's childhood home on Morgan Street was built by her grandfather, Joseph Wittmann, a brick contractor who immigrated from Hungary in 1882. Just blocks from St. Edward Church and School, Mary remained a parishioner at St. Edward over her 99 years. Church was the epicenter of Mary's life, as it was for all Catholics back in the day. She graduated 8th grade at St. Edward School and spent her teen years socializing and playing tennis at Brighton Playfield, with her closest friend Annabelle "Annie" (Loranger) Martineau at her side.

One of her favorite memories was vacationing with the Loranger family at Twanoh State Park on Hood Canal. Annie and Mary went on to Holy Names Academy, graduating in 1942. Their twosome grew to a foursome at HNA, with Paula Riley and Florence Keefe becoming their lifelong friends.

Mary was athletic, always up for a game of softball, basketball, volleyball, or tennis. She loved to snow ski, fish, dig for clams, and just about anything outdoors. She had a beautiful voice, singing in choirs and with friends, and continued to love listening to music until her end. She was a card player! And bridge was her mainstay. There was nothing better than getting away with her pals to John Keefe's cabin on Whidbey Island for playing cards and clamming.

She was working at the Crown Zellerbach Paper Company when she met St. Edward parishioner John L. O'Brien, who was the State Representative for their district. They were married in 1952, and built their Seward Park home shortly thereafter, just a mile from their childhood homes and the church. Mary and John O'Brien started having Seafair parties at their house on Lake Washington Blvd. in the '50s. Guests would ante up and pull the name of a hydroplane out of a hat, their boat for the day. The winner took the pot after the final heat. The tradition of having Seafair parties continued when Mary's six children held full weekend parties while Mary patiently turned a blind eye. Years later, when she was getting an email address, Ken suggested "Seafair Mom" at The nickname stuck.

The family's involvement with Seafair and the hydros exponentially increased when son John entered the sport as a hydroplane owner. As John recalls, Mom would ask, "Johnny, do you need some more money for your race boat"? "Seafair Mom" was proudly displayed as a sponsor on all of John's hydros. The turbine days are gone, but siblings John, Jeannie and Paul, along with cousin Gary Hansen and friend Ken Eng co-own the restored 1962 Notre Dame. It is scheduled to make an exhibition run at this year's Seafair Regatta. Says son Paul, "This is all mom's fault you know".

Mary was a Lifetime Member of the Rainier Valley Historical Society, Emeritus Member of Washington Athletic Club, Longest Parishioner of St. Edward Parish, and Honorary Member of Rainier Golf & Country Club where she was an avid golfer and bridge player.

Mary's life was all about family, a beloved and selfless mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, great-aunt, cousin, friend, and a woman of great faith. Mary was reunited with those she dearly missed, her husband of 55 years, John L. O'Brien, her daughter Mary Ann Suver, her parents Frank and Ella Schwarz, brothers Frankie and George Schwarz, sisters Barbara Koch and Florence Hosterman, cousin Patty Hagen, niece Carole Silvernale, nephews Doug Koch, and Phil Hosterman. Her lifelong friends Paula Riley, Annie Martineau, and Florence Keefe, and many other family and friends too numerous to mention. What a party they're having right now!

Mary is immediately survived by her children: Laurie (Mark Jensen), John Jr. (Mary), Mary Ann's husband Paul Suver, Karen, Jeannie (Ken Selander), and Paul (Mikel). Her grandchildren: Jessica McCoy (James), Sean O'Brien (Monica), Michael O'Brien (Alicia), Jamie O'Brien (Matt Zenner), Cleo Selander, Kellen and Connor O'Brien. And her great-grandchildren: Mikey, Anna, and Cora O'Brien, James and Shane O'Brien, Henry McCoy, and soon, baby Zenner. And step great grandchildren: Maddox Zenner, Eden, and Eleanor Hall. She is also survived by her Girl Friday, Laura (Kamikawa) Gilbert, and her grand dogs Buddy and Bubbles.

Rosary at Columbia Funeral Home, 4567 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, Friday, Feb. 16, 7 pm
Funeral Mass at Saint Edward Church, 4213 So Orcas St, Seattle, Sat. Feb. 17, 10 am

Remembrances may be made to the Mary K. Schwarz O'Brien '42 Endowment Fund at Holy Names Academy, 728 21st Ave East, Seattle 98112 or to St. Edward Parish, 4212 S Mead Street, Seattle 98118.

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February 16, 2024

7:00 PM
Columbia Funeral Home and Crematory
4567 Rainier Ave So
Seattle, Washington 98118

Funeral Mass
February 17, 2024

10:00 AM
Saint Edward's Catholic Parish (Seattle)
4205 S Orcas Street
Seattle, WA 98118


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