Obituary: Dr. Michael J. O’Brien

Dr. Michael J. O’Brien, age 73, died Friday, May 12, 2017 of complications related to diabetes.

He was born in Green Bay on August 2, 1943 to Dr. Erwin J. and Margaret (Hart) O’Brien and attended St. Patrick’s Grade School and Premontre High School. At Premontre, he played on the basketball and golf teams. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana in 1965, and received his Ph.D. in American History from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1970.

Michael taught history at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point from 1970 to 1972 and from 1972 to 2003 at the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley where he earned several teaching awards. Michael coached youth soccer and worked for Boys and Girls Brigade and Habitat for Humanity. He served on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club and the Clark Lake Association.

Michael authored nine books, including biographies of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, Joe Paterno, Notre Dame’s President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, Senator Philip Hart, Vince Lombardi, and President John F. Kennedy.

He will be deeply missed by his wife of 50 years, Sally (nee Pratsch), four children, Timothy (Jane) of Nashotah, WI; Dr. Sean (Angela) of Fairfax, VA; Jeremy (Andrea) of Woodbury, MN, and Carey (Craig) Podlesnik of Brookfield, WI. Michael was the proud grandfather of 12 grandchildren, Connor, Brendan, and Megan O’Brien; Dylan, Aidrian, and Patrick O’Brien; Emma, Jonah, and Kian O’Brien; and Nora, Claire and Ava Podlesnik. He is also survived by his three siblings, Rev. Dr. Charles O’Brien of Williamstown, MA, Rev. John O’ Brien, and Patricia Schneider, both of Green Bay, WI; cousins; nieces and nephews; and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Fr. Christian (Tom) O’Brien, O. Praem; and four siblings-in-law, Donald Schneider, Elvy O’Brien, Rita Pratsch, and Bonnie Baldwin.

Michael’s life will be honored with a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 12:00 noon on Monday, May 15, 2017 at S.S. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Institute, 4767 E. Dunn Rd., Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 with Bishop Robert Morneau, his brother, Fr. John O’Brien, and his cousin, Fr. Bill O’Brien, concelebrating. Interment will be at Allouez Catholic Cemetery & Mausoleum.

Visitation for family and friends will be held at the church, Monday morning, from 10:00 a.m. until the time of Mass.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, please consider a donation to the Michael O’Brien Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley Foundation in Menasha, WI.

Huehns Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Sturgeon Bay is assisting with arrangements. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Michael may be shared with his family through his tribute page at

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