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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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May 26, 2019

3/19/2019 7:30:00 AM
Barbara J. O'Brien

Barbara J. O'Brien, age 64, of Rhinelander, passed away Thursday, March 14, 2019, at her home, surrounded by her loving family. She was born Sept. 2, 1954, to Frank and Ruth (Maas) Sparks.

Barb attended school in both Rhinelander and Milwaukee, graduating in 1972 from South Division High School in Milwaukee.

Throughout her life, Barb held jobs in the food industry and also worked at Frabil Manufacturing in Milwaukee. She married Jerry O'Brien on Aug. 7, 1982, in Rhinelander. Barb enjoyed watching movies, listening to music, and her frequent shopping trips to Wal-Mart and Trig's. She loved to laugh and she had a very contagious smile. She loved spending time at holidays and birthdays with her family and friends. She was able to attend one last birthday party, for her niece Leela and her nephew Joey, just a couple of weeks ago and she truly enjoyed herself. Barb had a big heart and a kind soul and she loved the Lord. She was much loved and will be deeply missed by all that knew her.

Barb is survived by her husband, Jerry O'Brien, her twin daughters, Chrissy (Jerry) Schreiber and Cory (Bert) Burns, all of Rhinelander; her son, James "Jimmy" Gomez Sr. of Green Bay; her three sisters, Debbie Alsteen of Milwaukee, Lorena (Pat) Klunder and Wilma (Dean) Mullins, both of Rhinelander; her grandchildren, Amanda "Aaron" (Angel Dye) Burns, Brianna (Dylan Strejc) Burns, and Zack Burns; and her step-grandchildren, Brad and Kimmy Schreiber, all of Rhinelander. She is further survived by her sisters-in-law, Debbie (Paul) Schramke and Jeanne Sparks; her brothers-in-law, Skip and Greg O'Brien; aunts, Merlyn Maas and Mary Sparks; special nieces and nephews, Becky Miller, Amy Sparks, Jennie Alsteen, Adam (Lauren Wacker) Sparks, Kurtis (Satina) Klunder, Jessica Sparks, Shaun (Lauren Truttmann) Sparks, Leela (Karl Hankey) Klunder, Lisa Sparks, and Joey Mullins; and many other cousins, relatives, and friends.

Barb was preceded in death by her parents, Frank Sparks and Ruth Weisling; her stepdad, Bob Weisling; her brothers, Wes and Mike Sparks; her grandson, James Gomez Jr.; her stepgrandson, Kevin Schreiber; her nephew, Cameron Sparks; her grandparents, Fred and Lela Maas and George and Mary Anne Sparks; uncles, Fred Maas Jr. and Clyde, Cecil, John, and George Sparks; and aunts, Marie, Dionne, and Zena Sparks.

The family would like to express their sincere heartfelt thank-yous to the excellent caregivers who helped Barb and our entire family through this difficult time, especially her very special caregiver, friend, and "sister" Gaby Benishek and Cristina Kallio and Robin Potter as well as the Ascension Hospice Staff including Renee and all the Hospice volunteers for their time and care.

The funeral service for Barb will take place at noon on Friday, March 22, 2019, at the Carlson Funeral Home (715-369-1414) with Rev. Mark Ring of Faith Baptist Church officiating.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of service on Friday at the funeral home.

Interment will follow in Forest Home Cemetery. Messages of condolence for the family may be directed at

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