Martha Marie O’Brien (née Paté), 91, a resident of Stonebridge at Burlington, an assisted living facility in Burlington, MA, passed away peacefully on May 5th, 2020.
Born to the late Joseph and Mary Paté she was a long-term resident of Newton, MA. Married for 55 years to the late Robert William O’Brien, she is survived by her son, Michael O’Brien (Kim McCullough) and daughter, Rebecca O’Brien (Christopher Carden). She is also survived by her brother Paul Paté and nieces Danielle, Cathy, Liz and Nancy, nephews Kenny and Bobby, and grandnephew Will.
Martha graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1946 where she showed a particular talent for art and contributed many illustrations to her high school yearbook. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Education from Massachusetts College of Art in 1950. She began her career as an art teacher in the Art Department of Lasell Jr. College from 1951-1956 and then later taught Art Methods during the 1971 Spring Semester at Boston College. Her most enduring legacy, however, was as an oil painter.
‘Impressionistic’; ‘soft, misty coloring’; and ‘intangible atmosphere’ aptly describe her oil paintings. A lifetime of summers on the coast of Maine, as well as visits to other New England states and up-state New York throughout the year, and a life-long residence in the Boston area all greatly inspired her choice of subject matter. Influenced by her French Canadian grandmother and an early trip to Europe, particularly France, made her aware of the impressionists’ vision. Her grandmother taught her a profound respect for nature. Its beauty sustained her throughout her life and most of her subjects are drawn directly from it. A combination of personal experience and nature made her choose a limited palette, simple technique and much restraint to create the intangible atmosphere found in her paintings.
Martha was a fairly prolific painter and she has sold well over 100 paintings in her lifetime. Her paintings are in many collections in the United States and Canada and even as far away as France. Both through exhibits and art association rental programs her works have hung in such institutions as the Fiduciary Trust of Boston, the Boston State House and even Symphony Hall. Martha has exhibited in many art shows throughout the region and received numerous prizes and accolades for her work. She was a long-term member of the Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA, the Copley Society of Boston and the Mast Cove Galleries of Kennebunkport, ME.
Martha also loved listening to classical music. Throughout their marriage Martha and Robert were season ticket holders to the Boston Symphony and they made many a trip to Tanglewood in the summer. Though Martha’s sight eventually declined she never lost her hearing and she loved listening to WCRB. She found great comfort in listening to classical music and it always kept her close to Robert’s memory.
During the last year of her life she was lovingly cared for by a wonderful group of women led but the marvelous Lorraine Kazelyan, now a dear friend. Lorraine could always get Martha laughing and Martha loved to be silly. We are very grateful to Lorraine and her team for their wonderful care of her right up to the very end.
Martha’s family will hold a memorial celebration at a future date and suggests, in lieu of flowers, donations in her honor to Rosie’s Place or WCRB.