In Memoriam

Brian Harold O'Connell

June 19, 1941
Tarrytown, New York

July 23, 2013
Rio Vista, California

The obituary below was published in the River News-Herald in Rio Vista, California

Brian the Barber Passes Away

Brian O'Connell of Brian's Barber Shop passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday July 23, 2013.  He must have sensed that it was his time to go because he had just sold his shop of three years to Nora the Barber.

Brian grew up in upper state New York in a small town named Tarrytown, home of the Headless Horseman.  O'Connell was one of four children and was raised by a single mother due to the fact that his father passed away when he was six months old.  He lived in Tarrytown until he was sixteen years old when his mother moved the family to San Francisco in 1957.  Work brought them to to California.  Brian's mother did bookkeeping for department stores, and she loved the overcast and gloomy weather.  Two weeks later they moved to Hollywood because all the children disliked the weather and wanted to see the sunshine.

It was then that Brian's mother told him "There is one profession that will never be replaced by a machine and that is being a Barber."  It was then at seventeen years old that he signed up for barbering school in Hollywood.  A year and a half later, at the age of eighteen and a half, he was working at a local shop in Hollywood, where some men would not have their hair cut by him because they said he was too young.  He then went on to work at a very exclusive barbershop in Hollywood where he cut many actors' hair, one being Johnny Whitaker from the 1960's TV show "Family Affair".

In 1964, he left for Vietnam.  He was an engineer in the U.S. Army and was stationed with the 101st Airborne building air strips, roads and Quonset huts.  While he was there he continued to sharpen his Barbering skills by cutting many of the servicemen's hair, even at times being told not to go out in the field for the day, but to stay back and cut hair.  He had left behind his wife Ann, who was pregnant with twin boys.

In December of 1965 Bob Hope came to perform for 20,000 servicemen.  He called Brian up on the stage and showed him a picture and said "What do you think of these guys?".  There in Hope's hand was the first picture that O'Connell had seen of his 3 month old twin boys, Dennis and Timothy (Scott).

He served two years in the U. S. Army and then returned home to his family and opened up his own barber shop.

Brian went on to work many other jobs.  He wanted to have something with benefits so he went to work at American Linen.  He soon got tired of the 250 miles a day that he put on his truck.  He then started to work with his brother-in-law building homes. Later, Brian and Ann separated and he moved to Tahoe were he worked as part of a maintenance crew for Condos, where he worked himself up to Maintenance Supervisor.  He also got his painting license and painted in the summer and did snow removal in the winter.  He moved to Carson City, Nevada and worked painting houses, removing snow in the winter and worked as an apartment maintenance man.  He also worked at "Local Choice Salon" as a barber in South Lake Tahoe.

Brian belonged to the Knight's of Columbus; the Moose Lodge; the American Legion; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Disabled American Veterans; and the Vietnam Veterans Association.  He was always trying to help veterans and tell them "Thank You" for all their help.

Brian is survived by his sons Dennis (Barbara), Scott (Marcie), and two granddaughters, Tyla and Alana O'Connell; several nieces and nephews, and Pam Martin, a good friend.

Brian will be missed by many.

This link is to a 10 minute video on You Tube called "Bob Hope Through The Years With The Troops".  The segment where Bob Hope called Brian up on the stage begins at 4:23 and ends at 5:28.  It includes comments by Brian and his twins made years later.  The entire video is a wonderful tribute to Hope and I recommend you watch the entire thing.

Some photos of Brian over the years

6 May 2005
Brian, John York, Don Atkins
Support Our Troops Rally at the Capital

11 June 2005
Nancy & Wayne O'Malley, Joe Hanus, Don Atkins, Brian
Visiting the VA Hospital in Reno

8 Sept 2005 at Veterans Hall
Brian is 3rd from left.

16 Sept 2005
Don Atkins, Brian, Joe Hanus
POW-MIA Remembrance Day at the Capital

13 Oct 2005 at Veterans Hall

29 Oct 2005 Nevada Day Parade

10 Nov 2005

11 Nov 2005
Veterans Day in Virginia City

12 Nov 2005
Support Our Troops Rally

12 Nov 2005
Support Our Troops Rally

8 Dec 2005
Christmas Dinner at the Hall

8 Dec 2005 at the Hall

2006 Christmas Party at the Fandango

19 Mar 2006
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Virginia City

19 Mar 2006
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Virginia City

8 April 2006
Honor Guard Training

15 April 2006
Memorial Service for Carl Long at Veterans Hall

4 May 2006
Posting Colors at the Capital

11 May 2006
Officers being sworn in.

4 July 2006 Parade in Virginia City

17 March 2007
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Virginia City

17 March 2007
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Virginia City

17 March 2007
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Virginia City

15 March 2008
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Virginia City

15 March 2008
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Virginia City

15 March 2008
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Virginia City

Some photos taken at Brian's Memorial Service on 23 August 2013
at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, CA.

Brian's twin sons, Scott and Dennis

Scott and Dennis with Brian's friend Pam Martin

Dennis with his wife Barbara

Scott with his wife Marcie

Barbara and Katherine

left to right
Marco, Marty, unknown, Leon, Bill, Jack Pam, Michael, Katherine, Rick, Jim. Jim, Joe, and Art

Leon, Bill, Katherine, and Marco

The Honor Guard lining up for reharrsal

The Honor Guard rehearsing their moves

Marty and an unknown friend of Brian's

Jack and Leon

Jim and Jim

Joe and Katherine

Rick, Marco, and Art