December 25, 1949 - February 12, 2019
Dr. David Martin O’Brien, a beloved psychologist, father, husband, brother, uncle, and friend, passed away in Dallas, TX on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 after a life of love and service. David was born on Christmas Day, 1949, in Iowa City, IA. He had a happy childhood and adolescence with his parents and five siblings in Dubuque, IA, where he was quarterback of the football team and a varsity wrestler at Wahlert Catholic High School. A remarkably dependable person from his earliest years, he didn’t miss a single day of school from kindergarten through twelfth grade. In the fall of 1968, David packed up for Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, a place he’d only seen in a brochure from his high school library. Much to his siblings’ amusement, he grew his hair long and became a hippie, once playing the guitar in front of 5,000 people to protest the Vietnam War. After graduating in 1972, he rode a motorcycle across Europe by himself, an adventure he talked about for the rest of his life. He worked a number of odd jobs throughout his youth – gravedigger for nuns, cement truck driver, leatherworker, waterbed salesman, bartender, and traveling researcher for a Stanford professor – but he found ultimate fulfillment in his career as a clinical psychologist. Earning his M.A. from International University in San Diego and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in 1983, David moved to Dallas, TX, where he held a thriving private practice for more than thirty years. He was especially dedicated to the mental wellbeing of adolescents and served as a consulting psychologist for Jesuit College Preparatory School and other high schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. His devotion to his clients was matched only by his deep love for his family. While working as a clinical therapist at St. Joseph Youth Center, a residential program for struggling teenagers, he met MerriLee Anderson, a therapist studying for her own Ph.D. in clinical psychology. They married in 1987, raised two daughters to adulthood, shared an office suite for two decades, and lovingly parted ways in 2011. David then rekindled a romance with his high school sweetheart, Nancy Nowlin, marrying her in Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA on May 16, 2014. They’d first met at a Friday night YMCA dance in 1966. He was a wonderful father and devoted husband who liked to spend his free time going on long bike rides, working crossword puzzles, playing golf, and cooking dinner for family and friends. David is survived by his wife, Nancy of Dallas, TX; his daughters, Shay of Brooklyn, NY and Bridget of Austin, TX; the mother of his children, MerriLee of Dallas, TX; five siblings, Kathy of Oak Park, IL, Steve (Alice) of Tahiti, Molly (Bill) of Minneapolis, MN, Sheila (Michael) of Oak Park, IL, and Meg (Tom) of Oak Park, IL; and many beloved nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Stephen Ambrose and Mrs. Marijo Martin O’Brien.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, gifts be made to either the Jesuit Memorial Fund at the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas (12345 Inwood Road, 75244) or to Promise House in Dallas (224 W. Page Ave., 75208).
A Signature Service under the direction of:
Aria Cremation Service & Funeral Home
10116 E. Northwest Highway
Dallas, Texas 75238
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