School 21
Official Obituary of

William R. O'Brien

March 3, 1940 ~ March 13, 2024 (age 84) 84 Years Old

William O'Brien Obituary

William Robert “Bill” O’Brien, age 84, of Appleton passed away Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at Rennes Health and Rehab Center in Appleton.  He was born on March 3, 1940 in Appleton Wisconsin son of Robert and Ethel (Kamps) O’Brien. He is survived by his loving wife Rosemary; son Todd (Mary); stepsons Mike and Steve (Renee) Brueggeman; brothers John (Cindy) and Mike (Debbie); grandchildren Bailey, Teagan, Briana, Alexa and Elayna. In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by his daughter Kelly and his brother Pat.

A graduate of Neenah High School and the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, Bill went on to earn two Master's Degrees from The University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Specialist Degree from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.  Bill dedicated his life to education serving as a teacher at Waupun, Monona Grove and Janesville Craig.  He went on to become the assistant principal at Pulaski, the principal at Wisconsin Rapids Assumption and later the principal at Xavier High School in Appleton.  He was a founding member and president of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System (formerly Appleton Catholic Education System). He concluded his career in education by helping to train the next generation of great teachers while on staff at Marian University.

During Bill’s teaching career he coached a state champion debating squad (Janesville Craig) and received the state speech teacher of the year award.  His proudest professional accomplishment; however, was the servant-leader role he played in establishing the Appleton Catholic Education System.  Outside of the classroom he was given the honor of serving as a Citizen Ambassador during a United States State Department trip to the Middle East.

Bill was a proud Badger who kept track of every detail of the basketball and football programs.  He loved being with his friends at the Appleton YMCA - at one point earning the nickname “The Mayor”.  Following in his father’s footsteps, he enjoyed playing golf and passed that love on to his grandson Teagan.  He loved people, especially the students he had the chance to teach and interact with.  He always took the time to listen and had a wonderful sense of humor - quick to smile and laugh. 

Most important to Bill was his Catholic faith and his family.  Bill was an active member of St. Pius X Catholic Church and frequently spoke about the importance of the Pius community.

Rosemary was the love of his life.  When he wasn’t at work, they rarely left each other's side.  They were brought together and sustained by their deep shared Christian faith.

Memorial services will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 21, 2024, at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 500 W. Marquette St., Appleton. Visitation will be at the church from 9:30 a.m. until the time of the Mass. Interment will be in St. John Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to St. Pius X Catholic Church or the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System. For online condolences, please visit

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March 21, 2024

9:30 AM to 11:30 AM
St. Pius X Catholic Church
500 W. Marquette Street
Appleton, WI 54911

Memorial Service
March 21, 2024

11:30 AM
St. Pius X Catholic Church
500 W. Marquette Street
Appleton, WI 54911


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