Thursday, June 24, 2010

Two Bowie "Old Timers" Reflect on the Passing of Nancy O'Brien

Former Bowie Blade-News Editor John Rouse and retired District Court Judge Jerry Devlin reflect on the passing of former Bowie resident Nancy O'Brien. A memorial service for O'Brien will be held Wednesday, June 30th at 4:30pm at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Bowie followed by an Irish Wake at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Route 3 (see maps below).

Bowie has lost yet another of its pioneers, those folks who settled here while developer Bill Levitt was still building the homes that created the brand new community that drew people from all demographic groups to within its borders. "Wow, an affordable house. Let's go see what Bowie's like," was the rallying call for many pioneers like Jack and Nancy O'Brien. The O'Briens became fixtures of the local social and political scene, and were known to virtually everyone back in that earlier, more tranqul "bedroom" community, as it was then known.

Name it, and Nancy was involved. She flittered about the small community like a whirling dervish. Social events, clubs and, yes, politics were within her range of interests. Of course, back then Bowie politics was little more than the Bowie Citizens Association. Even county government was small and less overbearing than that massive arrogant bureaucracy of today. And there was Nancy in the midst of it all, singing or bellowing for Bowie's interests. Sadly, another pioneer gone.

- John Rouse


Nancy O' Brien was a fixture at what seemed like all political events both in her husbands' successful campaign and in other Democratic Party functions. A talented pianist, she was a showstopper for decades.

Old timers will recall when the late Congressman Hervey G. Machen ran against Ed Conroy for the 5th District Congressional seat. Hervey, who was famous for his malapropisms, promised that if he were elected he would maintain close "rap-a-pore" with the people of Bowie. Nancy sat down at the piano and came up with the following (to the tune of "For Boston")

For Hervey, for Hervey
We're all so proud of you
That we sent you down to Washing -ton
Conroy worked so hard to get in the door
But you won the race with you rap-a-pore
For Hervey for Hervey
We're all so proud of you

I have known Nancy for most of my life. She was a graduate of Scituate High School Class of 1949 and her mother ran a real estate firm in Scituate Harbor called McDonald Brothers. She was a friend of Phyllis Mitchell who lived a couple of doors down Spaulding Avenue, and they were friends of my sister Pat.

- Jerry Devlin

St. Pius X Church
14700 Annapolis Rd
Bowie, MD 20715-1899
(301) 262-0203

Knights of Columbus Hall
6111 Columbian Way
Bowie, Maryland
(301) 262-1041

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