Friday, July 12, 2024
Log in Subscribe

William Patrick O'Brien: 1940-2024


William “Bill” O’Brien passed peacefully on April 23, 2024, at 84 years of age. Together for 38 years, Bill is survived by his wife, Barbara, as well as daughter Stacy and son-in-law Chris Coffman; sons Steve and Brady; daughter-in-law Tami; grandchildren Kyle and Megan; and stepson Shane Salenjus. He was predeceased by stepson Yancy Salenjus.

Bill grew up in Lake City and followed in his father’s footsteps. Like his father, he became a baker (for Hostess) and a fireman, joining the Seattle Fire Department in 1967. Bill completed his 30-year career as Captain of Ladder 10 in 1997.

He left a lasting impression on the Seattle Fire Department, with a long list of people he recruited, trained and mentored along the way.

Bill had a way of grabbing people’s attention. This was highlighted by his various nicknames people assigned him over the years such as Mongo, Basic Bill, Lumpy, Billy Boy and Wild Bill – each accepted by him with great humility.

Bill had an innate ability to get almost anything to work, but would often move on to the next project before the current project was finalized. Bill loved old cars and would spend a lot of his time fixing up his Studebakers and his ’39 Chevy. It took a certain type of bravery to ride with him in these cars, as exemplified by the time his brakes failed going down a long steep hill in West Seattle, ending in him totaling one of his Studebakers.

Bill was a committed husband, father and surrogate father-figure/coach for various neighborhood kids. His charisma and strict-but-fun demeanor was just the right combination to create a dedicated following of youngsters that, to this day, speak of his strong influence in their lives. Holding you accountable with expectations that you live up to your potential was his specialty.

From Scout leader, to coaching youth sports, to mentoring aspiring firefighters, his energy was infectious and an inspiration to many. He helped you achieve your highest potential by setting the example and showing you that you are never whipped until you quit. Perseverance was his superpower, never quitting even in defeat.

A true classic, Bill will be missed but live on in the stories of those he impacted.

A celebration of life will be announced on Facebook. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Seattle’s Bravest Charity (SFD Honor Guard & SFD Pipes and Drums: