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Sidelined by a health scare on Nov. 8, Branford resident Bill O'Brien, who is known and loved in many circles across the state and shoreline for all that he does, is back at home and making a great comeback. Photo With Permission, Bill O'Brien )
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On November 8, Bill O'Brien was doing what doing what he loves – grabbing great sports photos at one of his grandsons' high school games – when he was sidelined by a heart health scare that sent him to the hospital, followed by receiving a pacemaker.
Now, the Branford resident, who is known and loved in many circles across the state and shoreline for all that he does, is making a great comeback. Friends and fans who heard of the incident on Nov. 8 and missed seeing O'Brien at the Branford Veterans Day Ceremonies and Parade on Nov. 10 (O'Brien is the Branford Veterans Parade chairman) let out a collective sigh of relief when O'Brien himself gave a great update – together with a thumbs up photo from his hospital bed – on his Facebook page on Nov. 12.
His note read, in part, "Thanks to a road block put up by Hand cheerleader coaches Licia Ciotti and Carla Carusone who recognized I was having a problem at Friday's Hand-Xavier game; that was followed up with a couple of Hunter Ambulance EMS's and good friend Jay Dombrowski, also an EMS technician and captain with the Milford Fire Department, and my daughter-in-law Nancy O'Brien, I was in good hands."
O'Brien was transported to Yale New Haven Hospital with a low heart rate and given a pacemaker on Nov. 11. He was home with his wife Maureen on Nov. 12 and had plans to attend Friday night games on Nov. 15.
Hundreds of friends have commented on Bill's post to send their best wishes for a speedy recovery. Bill also thanks his family (his grandkids call him "Poppy") for their support.
"I can't tell you how much it means to me with the prayers and well wishes I received from so many folks. It made me feel like a million dollars. Thank you all for your thoughtfulness," said O'Brien in his post.
Contacted by Zip06/The Sound, O'Brien said he has been "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of affection and support he's received, following both the Nov. 12 post and a Veterans Day post he published; of photo he'd captured of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, lit up at night with red, white and blue lights to honor military veterans.
O'Brien, who served in the U.S. Army reserves after graduating from Quinnipiac in 1962, moved to Branford in 1969 and is known throughout town for his active involvement in many areas of the community. He co-founded the Branford Sports Hall of Fame (which inducted him, with grateful thanks, on its 25th anniversary) and is credited with the successful financial re-launch of the Branford Festival over 30 years ago, including years of leadership on its Corporate Board, for which he now serves as Emeritus. He's currently serving the Town as a member of the Branford Parks and Recreation Commission and the Branford Economic Development Commission. During his 42-year career in commercial banking in Greater New Haven, he served as a community leader – including chairing the United Way of Greater New Haven, as president of the New Haven Road Race and as Grand Marshal of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade. O'Brien also supported the game of football (he played at Notre Dame High School) by serving with the Walter Camp Football Foundation for over 40 years (including president, 1979-81). He went on to be selected to become a member of board of directors of The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF). O'Brien is also a cherished member of this area's high school Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC). He served among its original leadership, including his role as SCC commissioner (1994-2005), followed by serving as Commission Emeritus.
O'Brien is also a noted photographer -- his 2015 photo exhibit at Branford's Academy on the Green was highly attended, and the very first program to be offered by Branford Cultural Arts Alliance. In recent years, O'Brien began documenting the sports play progress of his grandkids' youth and high school teams and programs in the towns of North Branford and Madison, gaining a huge following of still more local fans, who look for the latest game photos of team play to be posted and shared by O'Brien on social media.
As one might expect, O'Brien's biography includes a lengthy list of well-deserved awards and recognitions.
O'Brien's photos of the town of Branford, it's parades, military and community events and ceremonies often appear in Zip06/The Sound. Look for The Sound's upcoming "Person of the Week" story on O'Brien, which will celebrate his contributions and awards and share some great stories from his many years of involvement and impact on Branford and beyond.
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