Virginia Anne Smith (Ginny) O’Brien – a true force of nature who epitomized love, strength and zest for life -- passed away peacefully February 11, 2021 with her family at her side. Her family is comforted knowing that somewhere in the heavens she is reunited with her parents, good friends, her horse Bob, and the many dogs and cats she gave a home – and a few kisses – to over many years. And perhaps she finally got to meet Clark Gable!
Born November 14, 1925, she was adopted by Eva (Snow) and Chester C. Smith, who cherished her. She loved to share stories of experiences with her parents and childhood on Stratford Road. These fond memories brought her happiness throughout her life.
She graduated from The Barstow School and Finch Junior College in New York City and spent her junior year at the University of Arizona. While in New York she had the thrill of hearing an up-and-coming singer named Frank Sinatra perform at the Paramount Theater and became a fan for life.
She was a loving, generous mother who always made home life special – from legendary Christmas parties, to birthdays, to impromptu “front stoop parties” with neighbors. Her home was known as a place of welcoming and hospitality to all.
She was a member of the Musettes of the Kansas City Museum and the Fireside Committee of the Kansas City Art Institute, where she served as chairman of the Fireside Auction. She also served as chairman of the Ladies Trail Ride of Saddle & Sirloin Club, where she won a first-place trophy in the Ladies Trapshooting competition.
She made education a top priority for her children and set an example of a strong work ethic by holding a wide variety of jobs, including at KC One Real Estate, where she worked for many years and made many friends. Not one to sit idle, at age 70 she started a new job at Weight Watchers, where she worked for several more years.
Our mother demonstrated great courage and strength when faced with some unexpected challenges, and she never let that cause her to lose her love of life and all its possibilities. In a life that spanned nearly a century, she traveled on both the 20th Century Limited, one of the world’s greatest trains, and the Concorde. She saw “Cats” in London, attended Carnival in Brazil, went to a disco with one of her daughters in Spain, shared many fun trips with her children (including 15 summers at her vacation home in Newport Beach), and even met Laurel and Hardy as a teenager. She was known to get down on the floor to exercise with her granddaughters, and even in her 90s often danced with them when a favorite tune played.
She is survived by her son William (Buzz) O’Brien, daughters Jan and Laura O’Brien (David Albrecht), granddaughters Selam and Tsige O’Brien, and grandson Shane McGovern.
Her family expresses sincere thanks to the staff at Bishop Spencer Place for their dedication to our mother.
At our mother’s request, a cocktail party will be held in her honor when the weather is warm and COVID-19 trends make gatherings possible. (The date will be shared when determined.) Until then, anyone wishing to celebrate her memory is encouraged to raise a toast with your favorite beverage, blast some Frank Sinatra or Barbara Streisand music on the stereo, and treasure moments of fun with family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, our mother requested donations be made to Rose Brooks Center or Wayside Waifs.
With a nod to one of her favorite songs: You’re free again, Mom. It’s time to have a party – for you.