John R. O’Brien, Esq.

John R. O’Brien, Esq., 69, of Dunmore, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday morning while surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Sally Furniss O’Brien.

Born in Scranton, he was the fifth and youngest child of the late James E. and Mary Athy O’Brien. He was educated at Scranton Preparatory School, the University of Michigan and Boston College Law School. John began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard P. Conaboy in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. John then entered private practice at Oliver, Price and Rhodes where he became a partner in 1984 and where he continued to practice law for the remainder of his life, including 20 years of service as the firm’s managing partner.

John was a skilled lawyer, a respected member of the Bar, and an active member of the community. He served two five-year terms as a member of the executive committee of the Lackawanna Bar Association and as the chief solicitor of Lackawanna County from 2008 until 2012. He received the Bar Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2008 and was presented with the Attorney Robert W. Munley Distinguished Service Award by Lackawanna Pro Bono in recognition of his outstanding contributions in 2023. He also taught business law and healthcare law at Marywood University for two decades. John coached Prep’s mock trial team for 15 years (including the 2010 state championship team) alongside the Honorable Malachy E. Mannion, and together they were honored with Prep’s T. Donald Rinfret Distinguished Alumni Award. John took great joy in mentoring numerous students on the mock trial team and younger attorneys at his firm who went on to successful legal careers of their own.

John was a lifelong member of the Country Club of Scranton and served on the club’s board for 12 years, including three years as its president. He won a club championship, three member-guests, and maintained a lifelong love for the game of golf. Even more than golf, he was deeply passionate about the University of Michigan and its athletics programs – an interest (or obsession) he shared with his father and his sons, all of whom also graduated from the University of Michigan.

John had a keen intellect and will be remembered for his wit and humor. In recent years, after his daughter spurred an interest in crossword puzzles, John began constructing his own and went on to have puzzles published in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. In September 2023, John conducted an interview with presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin before a full house at the Scranton Cultural Center. Ms. Goodwin later reported that John was the most knowledgeable, effective and enjoyable interviewer she’s encountered. Additionally, John was particularly interested in classical languages and in history and kept books in Latin and Greek throughout his home. He took great comfort in poetry and remained thoughtful and inquisitive until his passing.

John and Sally raised three children, all of whom reside in Philadelphia: Robert O’Brien and wife, Jenna Beras; Molly O’Brien Loughin and husband, Nate; Thomas O’Brien and fiancé, Greyson Asmus; and grandsons, Declan O’Brien and Luke Loughin. In recent years, John and Sally made another home in Rittenhouse Square where John took great joy in spending time with his children and grandchildren and where, as a lifelong baseball fan, he enjoyed attending Phillies games. John is also survived by his siblings, Joseph O’Brien and wife, Barbara; and Janet O’Brien and husband, Peter Spengeman; his mother-in-law, Joanne Furniss; many nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews; and his beloved dog, Maizey. He will be remembered by many friends, including many special friendships with the members of the 1972 class of Scranton Prep.

He was predeceased by his brothers, Andrew O’Brien and James E. O’Brien Jr.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday at noon at St. Paul’s Church, 1510 Penn Ave., Scranton. Friends and family may call at the church from 10 a.m. until the start of the Mass.

Throughout his life, John placed the highest value on education. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Class of 1972 Scholarship Fund, Scranton Prep, 1000 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA 18509; or to the Russell J. O’Malley and James E. O’Brien Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Scranton Area Community Foundation, 615 Jefferson Ave., Suite 102, Scranton, PA 18510.


  1. John C. Keklak

    John was a great classmate at Scranton Prep and I was happy to have had the opportunity to maintain contact with him at various gatherings of the Prep Class of ’72. He will be sorely missed. My sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

  2. Rene Quinlan

    I work with Robbie O’Brien, and he always spoke of his father with respect and admiration. May Mr. O’Brien rest in peace with our Lord, and may his family find comfort when they remember the joyful times that they shared with him.

  3. Tom Price

    John and I lived down the hall from each other in East Quad (at UM). I have never encountered a smarter, funnier, more decent, or better guy to be around. May his memory be a blessing.

    • Jim Reid

      Tom, John talked about you going with him to the Detroit Tigers opening games while you were at UM.

  4. Fred Spengeman

    Deepest condolences to John’s family and friends. Fritz Spengeman

    • Cathy Serino

      Sally and family:
      Please accept our deepest condolences upon learning of John’s passing. It was always a pleasure to see him and engage in conversation about Michigan/ Penn State football .
      We hope all of you will find comfort in your memories of John. He truly was a wonderful person, professional and friend.
      Jim and Cathy Serino

  5. Fred Hickman

    Reading John’s obituary and seeing his smiling face made me so grateful to have known him. I cannot express how helpful he was with some very difficult issues at North Penn Bank, when I was CEO there. His calmness, intelligence, and intuition were invaluable to the bank and to me. God bless his soul and his wonderful family.

    • Avi Szenberg

      My deep condolences to the family. John was a wonderful man and a great attorney. He was refined, smart and a person of real values. May the memories of him serve as a condolence to the entire family.

  6. John J Zurinskas

    Sally and Family.
    We are so sorry to hear of John’s passing. What a wonderful human being.
    May he rest in peace….
    John & Beth Z

  7. Nancy Rafert

    Stew and I send our heartfelt condolences to Sally, to Janet, and to the rest of the O’Brien family for the loss of this clearly fine human being.

  8. John and I were classmates together at Scranton Prep. In our senior year when I was Editor in Chief of the Yearbook and my co-editor got busy starring in a school play with the Slocum Hollow Players, I appointed John as my co-editor and he was a tremendous help putting out a great edition of the Cavalier. He and I and just a few others of our classmates elected to take a Classical diploma, and so we were in Latin and Greek classes together. I’m not surprised to see from his obituary that John kept up both languages throughout his life. Beyond Scranton Prep, John and I were part of the same group of guys who played sandlot baseball together constantly throughout the summer: after breakfast in the morning; again after lunch in the afternoon; and again after dinner in the evening. At first we would play in the Little League parks and, as we became more proficient at hitting the long ball, the Dunmore Teener League park. I guess you could say we were all the Boys of Summer together ( Jerry Mackarevich –“Macker”; Danny Penetar–“Pine Tar;” Tom Walsh; Johnny Durso; John — “Obey;” and numerous others, neighborhood guys as well as other Prep students). John was bright, full of life, inquisitive, and had a great sense of humor. My condolences to his family on this great loss.

  9. Kevin Clarke

    Sally and family. We are very sorry to read today of John’s passing. We always enjoyed his company and engaging conversations. He was a great individual and will be missed by countless friends and colleagues. May he rest in peace

  10. Lois Lowry

    Dear Sally and family,

    My deepest sympathy to you and your family. John was a wonderful and bright person. He will truly be missed by all who knew him. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers at this time. May he rest in peace.

  11. Vincent Jay Vanston

    Dear Sally:

    My father alway spoke so highly of John! I was so sorry to hear of your loss

    – Jay Vanston

  12. Nadine Mahon

    Sally and family, I am so sorry for your loss. I met John with your Mom at a PNC function and was immediately taken with his personality and wit. He was bigger than life and you were lucky to have him and he all of you.

  13. Nick, Izzy & Gus Tejeda

    While I unfortunately never met John, I felt like I knew him for years through all the amazing stories I heard about him through Tommy and my unsuccessful attempts at his published crossword puzzles. He was obviously one-of-a-kind. Sending my deepest condolences and love to the family. Forever, Go Blue!

  14. John Skaluba

    Dear Sally
    My sympathy to you and your family. I first met John during my years at Tom Hessers, he was always a class act.

  15. Christopher and Jennifer (Severini) Kresock

    Our sincerest sympathy to Sally, Robbie, Molly, and Tommy. As a babysitter for the O’Brien children for many years, I fondly remember John and what a wonderful family man he was. May you find peace and comfort in the memories of a life well-lived. God bless you always!

  16. kurt haarmeyer

    Dear Sally,
    I was sorry to learn of John’s passing.
    The world has lost one of it’s finest.
    I always looked forward to seeing him.
    His vast knowledge, his smile, his dry humor and the sound of his laugh never failed to bring joy to my heart.
    May your tears of sorrow be mixed with tears of laughter each time you think of him.
    All our love to you and your family,
    Kurt & Laura

  17. Jeanne W. Fisĥer

    Sally & family, I want to express my condolences ???? to all of you. I spoke to Joanne and offered my sympathy to her. GOD Bless.

  18. Rob and Marilu O'Malley

    Sally and Family, Many thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. Keep his memories close to your heart and watch out for his “Godwinks”.

  19. Ken Krogulski

    Sally and family,

    My condolences on the loss of your husband and father.

    Ken Krogulski

Leave Your Condolences

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.