Kimberly Jean O'Brien

kimberly o'brien
O'Brien, Kimberly Jean, a 25 year resident of Torrance , passed away on December 30, 2008 in her home. Born in Los Angeles , California on December 18, 1952 she was 56 years old when she died. Kim was a teacher for over 28 years, most of which were spent in the Hermosa Beach School District where she taught 3rd and 4th grade. She loved teaching and was close to many generations of students as well as their parents. Kim leaves behind many supportive friends and colleagues at HBUSD. Kim enjoyed the ocean and the beach as well as her second home in Palm Springs where she could swim, hike and relax. She was a photographer, a neophyte gardener and a home improvement addict. Kim loved to travel, have adventures and always said "Life should never be boring". Kim was a member of both St. Lawrence and St. James Catholic parishes. For many years she coordinated a holiday "Adopt a Family" drive with her students and the church. She was a member of the Wellness Community and active in the Redondo Beach Relay for Life. Kim is survived by her husband John, son Steven (Megan) of Barksdale AFB, LA, daughters Erin of Sacramento, CA and Kara of Torrance, CA as well as three grandchildren-Isaiah, Aidan and Scarlett. She is also survived by her father and mother, Jim and Barbara White, brothers Jay (Jennifer) and Jeff (Andrea) and sisters Cathy and Laurel (Bill) Atwood. Kim will be remembered by all those who's lives she touched and deeply missed by her students and their families, her colleagues and friends, and especially by her family. Visitation will be from 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm on Thursday, January 8, 2009 at the Rice Mortuary Chapel at 5310 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503.(310)792-7599. Funeral Services will be at 10:30 am on Saturday, January 10, 2009, at St. James Catholic Church at 415 Vincent St., Redondo Beach, CA 90277. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in Kim's name to: Embrace Support Group c/o Little Company of Mary foundation 4101 Torrance Blvd. Torrance, CA 90503

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Memories Timeline


  1. John–I was so deeply saddened by the news of Kim’s death. I was unable to attend the funeral or visitation, but want you to know that my thoughts have been with you since hearing of her passing. I will be in touch soon.

  2. My condolences to the entire O’Brien family. I first met Kim in 1983 when she taught my daughter Rachael in third grade. I got to volunteer in her room, and though a teacher myself, I learned much about the craft of teaching. Later my son Cory was lucky to be taught by Kim, though only part time as she was pregnant that year! We were friends as I became active in PTO, and then were colleagues when I returned to teaching at Hermosa Valley School. Kim was the best, as you well know. We will all miss her, but are the better for knowing her. With love to Kim, Angela

  3. Dear O’Briens I want to tell you, as you know, your mother (and wife to John)was a beautiful person inside and out. We enjoyed our “therapy time”…our walks and our time exercising together. I am saddened that we didn’t have more of those times…but I am blessed with the time I did spend with Kim. She was extremely proud of her children and she (and John) raised 3 wonderful children. Her memorial was certainly special and it was obvious how much she and her family meant to so many people. I will miss her (and our walks and talks). Susan Woodard

  4. I will always remember my beautiful California cousin Kim. I have so many wonderful childhood memories. One that comes to mind was her big forgiving smile back in 1976 when she had to come down to the LA bus depot at 3am because I had missed the last bus home from Disneyland. She had such a special way of making the best of everything and I know she has touched many lives.

  5. I was lucky enough to meet Kim through her Daughter Kara, and my niece Kasey. I will remember Kim for her grace, for being a loving mother, a caring friend, and a devoted teacher.

  6. The beauty of friendship is like the beauty of flowers…there are many kinds, and yet each has unique beauty to offer. There are friends who share our paths during certain stages of our lives, while others stay close to us year after year. Some are vibrant, admired for their strength, while others are delicate whispers of color whose gentleness has a special place in our hearts. I’m grateful for the color, beauty, and joy Kim’s friendship added to my life. With love, Kris

  7. The elegance and grace of my mothers character will live on in the legacy of my heart. More so her quirky humor and the remorseless moments of embarrassment, like the time we pinched the behind of New Yorks €œnaked cowboy€ in time square, or the endless jokes we shared in the Amish town of Intercourse, PA and how much we loved it. €œLife doesn€™t have to be boring€. I will long to hear €œKara Cathleen!€ at every tattoo and new hair color I get from here on out, but most of all I will long to be able to hug my mom and hear her voice every second for the rest of my life. €œWhen I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness She is standing right in front of me Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.€ For my Father and Mother.

  8. Kim was one of the most positive, free-spirited people I’ve ever known. She was truly like a second mom to me, and I loved her like family. I’ll never forget riding in the mini van, whether it be to 22nd street or to Palm Springs; it was always an adventure with Kim. She was so many things, and anyone who knew her knew what an amazing person she was-but most of all she was an amazing mother and an amazing friend to both myself and my family. I am so grateful I had the chance to know her for so many years, you will be forever missed Kim <3.

  9. Kim was lovely! She could be silly, and fun, and did all of this in the style of a first lady. She was always, always, there for my Kasey. She said Kasey and Kara are sisters, w/ different mothers. I’m honored to have known her and we are blessed she and John gave the world Kara, Erin and Steven. I miss her.

  10. It was my pleasure to have worked with Kim for 5 years at Valley School. Kim was always an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher. We all enjoyed working with her and many parents requested to have their children in her 4th grade class. She loved teaching.We will all miss her. My condolences to her family at this very difficult time, Leah Fernald

  11. It was my pleasure to have worked with Kim for 5 years at Valley School. Kim was always an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher. We all enjoyed working with her and many parents requested to have their children in her 4th grade class. She loved teaching.We will all miss her. My condolences to her family at this very difficult time, Leah Fernald

  12. Everytime someone says to me, “You look just like your mom!”, I will be forever greatful that I am indeed the spitting image of such a beautiful person both inside and out. My mom is and was the most important person in my life and I will miss her dearly. She inspired me to become a teacher and I hope that I can follow in her footsteps as she has enriched so many of her students’ lives. I couldn’t have asked for a better mom. I am so blessed to have had her in my life. Love you Mommy!

  13. Kim and I taught third grade together, but our friendship went much further than a professional relationship. Our bond was unique, as we shared the same type of humor. As Kim would say to me, “We have a wicked sense of humor.” Then we would laugh the most wicked laugh imaginable! There are so many fond memories I have with Kim (the wicked ones I won’t share!), boogie boarding in Redondo Beach, taking aqua aerobics classes during the summers, girl trips to Palm Springs (to “work on report cards”), but the best part was seeing Kim everyday at work. She kept me laughing through the good times and the hard times. She was the one that took care of everyone at work and was always there to support you if you were down. I miss you Kim!

  14. Kim and I were friends for 52 years having grown up together in Hawthorne and continuing our friendship throughout all these years. She was my best buddy… always ready for adventure and good fun. We would “laugh until we cried” at the silliest of things. She will always be Kute Kimmy in my heart… the memories are endless and forever. I love you!!!

  15. I worked with Kim for 20 years, but got to know her best when I moved from middle school to the 4th grade, she to 3rd. Because of Kim, I am not only a better teacher but a better person. She embodied grace and beauty, integrity and kindness, compassion and humor, truthfulness and warmth, and a sense of fun, spunk and joie de vivre. She was also a trusted confidant because she was, afterall, “the vault.” Her ever-positive attitude and smile, especially when things were difficult, amazed me. I will miss her sorely, but am forever grateful to have called her friend.

  16. Mrs. O’Brien was one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had. She was my 4th grade teacher and she taught me so much. I recently donated my hair to Locks of Love, before I decided to do so, I talked with her, and she supported it wholeheartedly. She was and always will be a wonderful woman and the lives she touched will be forever changed. You will always be in my heart, Kelsey

  17. It is hard to put into words the impact and impression certain Teachers imprint in your soul. Mrs. O’Brien was a top drawer Educator and a wonderful human being. Mrs. O’Brien will always be a part of our lives…Heart felt condolences to her family. Know she will be kindly remembered and missed by many. Our prayers are with you. Rick, Suzanne and Austin Lessel former fortunate student.

  18. Kim seemed to be the instigator of all our fun times and surprises at our family reunions, from T-shirts to birthday parties. We’ll miss her uplifting spirit.

  19. TJ remembers Kim coming to CT and witnessing a thunderstorm. She was so excited to see it! She always was so enthusiastic about life. I loved how she designed and coordinated all of the t shirts for the White Family reunions. She was so excited to see and re-connect with all of the cousins. She will be deeply missed. The White Mountains (NH) will never be the same again! We are all so lucky to have had Kim in our lives. She was truly one of the world’s most beautiful people both inside and out. We’re sorry we can’t be there in person to say goodbye, but our thoughts and prayers will be with all of you this weekend.

  20. Dear John: Although I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Kimberly, it’s obvious to me that she was a wonderful wife and mother. I will pray for you and your children, John, that our Lord comforts you and your family and gives you the strength and peace that you will need to carry on without Kimberly by your side. I know, personally, the deep sorrow and loss you will have to cope with, no longer having your dear Kimberly in your life. Have faith in our Lord Jesus that he is setting things up for you and Kimberly to be together again in Glory Land. God Bless you John Ed Palmer

  21. Kim, we miss laughing with you in the teacher’s lounge! I am comforted to know how at peace you are now.

  22. I miss 140th street in Hawthorne when we were kids and next door neighbors. I miss the morning air in our hair as we pedaled our bicycles as fast as we could down the hill. I miss the afternoon movie matinees, West Side Story, Hilda and Hazel, and trips to the beach. I miss playing hide-and-seek till way past the time when the street lights went on and I miss our club and hopscotch and all the secrets and the laugher we shared. I will always remember you as that freckled face girl next door named Kimmy. Though many from our neighborhood drifted away we stayed in touch throughout the years and I’m so glad that we did. You were beautiful and sweet and I know that you are up above in heaven today and dancing on a cloud with all the other angels . . . I love you Kim and I am going to miss you so much.

  23. Steven, Erin, Kara, Words cannot express how much my heart breaks for you. Your mother was not only a wonderful mother, but a beautiful person. She had a zest for life and interest in everyone’s life who was a part of hers. She made everyone around her feel as big as the ocean. Fortunately for us, she instilled this in all of you and that shines through every day. Uncle John, The amount of love that was and remains between you and Aunt Kim is immeasurable. To watch the two of you together, especially when you were unaware, was like watching the best of friends and the greatest of loves. Your marriage was a wonderful example to us all about what marriage is about. To all of you, Thank you for sharing your mother with all of us. I know that I am a better person for having her in my life and the world is a better place for having her in it. She has left her footprint in so many places and on so many hearts. To my beloved Aunt Kim, these words from the third grade will forever fill my heart: And I never thought I’d feel this way And as far as I’m concerned I’m glad I got the chance to say That I do believe I love you And if I should ever go away Well, then close your eyes and try to feel The way we do today And then if you can remember Keep smilin’, keep shinin’ Knowin’ you can always count on me, for sure That’s what friends are for For good times and bad times I’ll be on your side forever more That’s what friends are for I love and miss you already

  24. It’s been a little over 27 yrs now that I met Kim and John in our Lamaze Class at Little Co of Mary. I am so grateful for their friendship and will miss Kim’s cheerful voice. My Love to all of her family and friends that will be missing her so much.

  25. January 5, 2009 O’Brien Family, So sorry to hear of Kim’s passing . She will always be remembered for all that gave to the Hermosa Schools . She was a favorite of both our children , Chris ( 1975-1991 ) & his sister Kara Keller . Our deepest sympathy goes out to you in your loss . Jim & Sandy Keller Hermosa Beach Jim Keller (Hermosa Beach, CA)

  26. Kim you have been in my prayers and my thoughts for months now. I only find comfort in knowing you are at peace now. This past week you have been right there with me almost every moment of each day as it passes. I see your huge smile. I hear your infectious laugh. I see the light again in your eyes and I know you will always be with us and it will be okay. For John, my brother, for Steven, Megan, Erin and Kara and all of Kim’s family please know that Kim will live on in all of our memories. Our hearts will heal by recounting all our stories of Kim over time. By laughing, by crying, by seeing her in the little things we do each day. I will remember Kim when I see the ocean. When I see those beautiful wildflowers growing along the margins of the beach, When I window shop and see something Kim would have loved or laughed at. When I pass a school and see the children with their teacher. Whenever I see a picture of Fabio! (Then I know I will hear Kim’s laugh!). I also thank God for Kim and for all those family photos and videos she took at our reunions. Who will ever be able to get all the O’Briens together again for a photo? Such a grumbling bunch and only Kim could somehow make us look like a presentable family. Only Kim could get us all to smile. Kim you were a sister to me and you were my friend and I love you. Be at peace and be with us always.

  27. My sincere condolences to the O’Brien’s. It was my good luck to have known Kim since we were in high school together at Mira Costa, and then to have worked with her for eighteen years in Hermosa. I will miss her smiling face and our time catching up on old friends.

  28. Some 16 years ago, as I was about to marry Gerard and join the O’Brien clan, Kim wrote me a letter. She said she knew it could be intimidating joining such a big family, and she was glad she wouldn’t be the only daughter-in-law anymore. She assured me that it was good family, and offered me her friendship and help if I needed it. I must admit I was a little taken aback because I had not yet met her and barely knew who she was. But it was such a kind act, and so genuinely caring, I have never forgotten it. And now I’ll remember her laughing on the deck of the Outer Banks house, holding Molly when she was only 8, and sitting in the hot tub looking up as she enjoyed the warmth with her family. The family photos will never be the same. We were lucky to have had her.

  29. Kim, I will miss you very very much. You were a wonderful wife and very loving mom and best friend to all you met. You loved life to the fulliest and I hope that we can all learn from you. I will always remember the family reuions just like the rest of the O’B’s. Those great T-shirts and the family photos that will never be the same. When we do get together again for that famous picture it will be tough but Kim I promise you that you will make us smile again. Of course I don’t know who will drag us to the ocean at night to watch the water light-up. John, Steven, Erin, Kara, I love you all and you will always be in my heart and prayers and thoughts. Love Meg

  30. As I get ready to leave for California tomorrow to say goodbye to Kim, I want to second the comments and memories of all our family members who have written so thoughtfully about Kim. She always made me,and the friends I travelled with, welcome when we visited the west coast O’Briens. When Kim and John were married, their wedding was a ceremony of peace and love. During this last difficult year, I often recalled one of the songs played that day – Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and that is certainly what they were to each other. But there was so much more as others have explained. For me that was the advice from Kim when I needed help in working with young children and her energy and sheer joy in life. From riding the roller coasters with Grandpa Bob O’Brien – the only one who dared to keep up with her – and at our 2007 reunion – riding in the dumbwaiter at the house in Duck with the encouragement of Erin and Kara she was always willing to take up the challenge. Now we have to take up her challenge and live our lives to the fullest with laughter and love. Having Kim in our lives will make us stronger families and better friends. So while we will say goodbye in one sense, in so many others, Kim will continue to be a part of all of us for all the years to come.

  31. Dear Mr. O’Brien, I was so sorry to hear about Kim’s passing. David Uyematsu emailed me the link from the Daily Breeze to inform me. May the wonderful memories of life together bring you comfort during this difficult time. Please take good care of yourself. Regards, Stacy (Ryono) Hashimoto THS Class of 1983

  32. Kim was one of those teachers that you did not need to know well to see how wonderful and lovely she was. I am sure there are kids and parents that will never be the same since knowing her. Thank you Kim for your dedication, love and the difference you made at Hermosa Valley School and I am sure, ALL around you. 🙂

  33. This woman was the worst teacher, made me hate school and went out of her way to punish me for things that were out of my control. I keep seeing the sentiment over and over that she was such a wonderful teacher and let me make this clear, she was not!! She consistently bullied me, maybe spend my lunches doing work because my parents weren’t rich and couldn’t help me. Awful woman!!

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