Denis O'Brien


Denis O’Brien passed away peacefully on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. Denis was born in 1938 in Granville, New York. He attended Castleton State College in Vermont where he received his teaching degree. From there, he accepted a teaching position in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school system in 1968 and remained there until his retirement. In addition to teaching in the math department, Denis was a volunteer fireman for twenty years at the East Glenville Fire Department.

Denis was an avid reader, consuming two or three books a week. One of his other passions was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. Many of his students and colleagues will recall the beautiful and colorful works of art hanging from the ceiling in his classroom. Denis created with precision, 3-D mathematical spheres, hexagonal pyramids and other shapes.

Without a doubt, one of the most memorable contributions he made was his role as a teacher and the impact he had on so many. Denis had an uncanny way of connecting with students who were sometimes challenging or had behavioral issues. He welcomed the students who believed they had little or no future and spoke their language. His students found his teaching style relatable and appreciated that he took the time to get to know them and talk to them. Every year, Denis would share his own personal life challenges with students in the Health classes. This insight to his own recovery helped many students process the troubles and problems in their own lives. A testimony to his success with students is the number of them who went on to become productive citizens and the former students who often came back to see Mr. O’Brien and thank him.

Throughout his teaching career and during retirement, Denis was an integral part time employee of Natural Design Landscaping. For many years he worked side by side with his friend Philip Pekar installing landscape designs. This allowed Denis to be outdoors, another thing he enjoyed.

Most importantly, Denis enjoyed time spent with his beloved wife Linda. They enjoyed quiet time together while they read or watched their favorite movies. Their most memorable times were when they traveled. Their trips to Georgia to see their son Adam were a welcomed relief from the cold weather of the north and their trips to the West coast to visit his daughter Sarah and her husband David were also special. They loved Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. Linda said that it was always a challenge to get Denis to return home during their trips to California’s Big Sur and Carmel.

He was predeceased by his parents Thomas O’Brien and Pauline Smith O’Brien, sister Jane Timm and brother Tom O’Brien. Denis is survived by his wife Linda Tallman O’Brien; daughters Sarah Misserian (David) of Tucson, AZ; Jennifer Kistner (Gerry) of Unity, NH and Sandra Spoerner (Michael) of Albuquerque, NM; son Adam Stanton of Atlanta, GA; grandchildren Christopher, Matthew, Rachel and Noah; brother Owen O’Brien (Mary Lou); friend and mother of his daughters Barbara O’Brien; and several nieces and nephews.

There will be no services at this time. Memorial contributions in memory of Denis may be made to the Saratoga County Animal Shelter, 6010 County Farm Road, Ballston Spa, NY 12020.

Guest Book

Rebecca Emerich

So sorry for your loss. I remember Mr.O’Brien in jr. High fun times and puts a smile on my face. After graduating from BH BL I thought I would probably never see my teachers again. But luck had it Mr. O’Brien and I meet again in the landscaping business. I would see him a few times each spring and summer. Always having a great chat with him each time. Yes putting another smile on my face. Thank you for being part of my life. You will be missed but not forgot.

Lynn Clasen

Mr. O'Brien was the dad of my best childhood friend Jennifer. I remember him fondly. I also had him for 9th grade algebra. He was a great teacher and person. So sorry Jennifer, Sally, and Sandy.

Jim Andrus

Denis you will be missed, thanks for help with Algebra.
You will always be part of our hunting camp family. RIP

Bob Bissonette

He was my math teacher during the 1972-73 school year. Great teacher and a good guy. I still remember making the 3D spheres.

Nancy Wagar Pirigyi

Mr. O'Brien - you were a teacher like no other - you were always my favorite! Thank you for making my high school years tolerable and memorable. You were such a wonderful man and always there for me even after high school. You will be missed terribly! My love and condolences to Mrs. O'Brien and your family. I am glad you are at peace now - I will never forget you!

Love,
Nancy Wagar Pirigyi

Jennifer Kistner

My dad was a wonderful father. Taught me many lessons, that I tried not to learn. Later in my life he was a great source of knowledge. He listened and gave good advice. He loved his wife Linda. Loved his kids. Loved his grand kids. He had so many stories to tell, from stories of growing up, to his time in the Army, to tipping over dumptrucks and living to tell about it. He loved his time in the East Glenville Fire Department. He loved teaching and ALL the students & teachers. I will miss him every day. I love you forever DADDY.

Sarah (Sally) O’Brien Misserian

Love you always Daddy! We will miss you so much, but we have so many hilarious stories and all your O’Brien-isms, to laugh about and help us through this difficult time. Thank you for being a great father and friend. You taught me I could do anything I put my mind too. You will live on forever in our hearts.