Cover photo for Dorothy  O'Brien's Obituary
Dorothy  O'Brien Profile Photo
1929 Dorothy 2022

Dorothy O'Brien

July 16, 1929 — May 28, 2022

After a long and fully lived life, it is with sad but full hearts that we share the loss of our dear mom, Dorothy Winston Strother O’Brien, better known to most as Dot.

She died of natural causes in her sleep in the early hours of Saturday May 28th, 2022, in Durham.

She was just shy of celebrating her 93rd birthday this July. She was born to Edgar Vernon Strother Sr and Nina Frances Duke Strother on July 16,1929. She was their middle child and one of 2 daughters along with a son. She was raised in Oxford NC until leaving home to attend UNCG known then as WC or Women’s College.

She graduated with a Home Economics degree in 1951. In June of the same year she married her lifelong sweetheart (second grade) Robert “Bob “Wayne O’Brien Sr also of Oxford. They shortly after moved to Las Vegas where she lived and worked while Bob was in the Airforce and serving in Korea.

After his military service, they felt the pull of home and returned to NC to live in Durham, which remained her home except for a bit over a year spent in Winter Park FL (just before Disney rolled in).

Mom loved life and lived it to the fullest. She literally never met a stranger anywhere she was in the wide world that her extensive travels took her. She made it most of the way around the world. She was always involved in her community being active with her Ruth Class at Watts Street Baptist Church for 40 plus years, a longtime Civitan serving in many capacities, an activist involved with the city and its struggles, early on with desegregation with Save Our Schools, and injustice and inequity in general.

She was a lifelong active member of her Durham Home Economics group of which many of her dearest friends also participated. She and Bob were also tireless volunteers with their time and financial gifts to the Boys and Girls Home of NC in Lake Waccamaw.

We were blessed to have her as a “stay at home “mom and our house was always full of our friends. She still found time to have her own business as an AVON consultant for many years while caring for her family.

After we were out of the house, she began driving a public-school bus for elementary age kids for 20 plus years. She brought joy and laughter and sometimes motherly discipline to them each day, but perhaps her greatest avocation was her passion for her Tarheels. Along with Bob, they were known far and wide for their zealous support both financially and as fans. Mom was easily recognized as she was always dressed from head to toe in her “Heels” regalia. She was captured by TV cameras often, as she followed her Heels to regular season and post season games as often as possible. She attended games as recently as 3-4 years ago when it just became too much for her physically.

Mom is survived by her three children:

Robert Wayne O’Brien Jr in Cary NC, Lyn O’Brien Gibbs and her favorite son in law Russell Anthony Gibbs in Richmond VA and Michael Duke O’Brien in Durham NC. She also had 5 beautiful grandchildren:

Michelle, Caroline and Kimberly who are Mike’s girls, and Jared and Davis, who are Lyn and Russell’s boys.

She had 2 great grands, Reid, son of Caroline and her husband Alex, with another son due any day now.

Also another grandson in Vienna Austria, Noah, the son of Davis and his wife Judith.

She is also survived by many nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews who so loved “Aunt Dot”.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 71 years, Bob, and by both her sweet siblings: Frances Elizabeth Strother Leonard and Edgar Vernon Strother Jr, which was not unexpected, as Mom was forever late for everything!

A celebration of life is planned for Dorothy at Doris Duke Center at Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC  27708 on August 7th, 2022, 2 pm- 5 pm, Program 2-3 pm, Reception 3-5 pm. I know she’d love it if you could be there!

If moved to do so, please make a donation in her memory to any organization near and dear to your hearts.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dorothy O'Brien, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Sunday, August 7, 2022

2:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

Duke Gardens - Doris Duke Center

420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC 27708

Program 2-3 pm Reception 3-5 pm

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Maplewood Cemetery

, WA

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