Obituary for Suzanne M. O'Brien

Suzanne M. O'Brien, age 60, of Shakopee, entered eternal life on Sunday, July 28, 2019, at her home.

Suzanne was born in Honolulu, HI on June 29, 1959 to Richard (Dick) and JoAnn (Hoelz) Schmit. Dick was serving in the Navy at the time and stationed in Hawaii. Suzanne was the first of eight children born to Dick and JoAnn. Upon receiving his discharge from the Navy, Dick, JoAnn and Suzanne moved back to Belle Plaine.

Suzanne grew up in a family guided by faith, love and hard work. The family grew over time with a 21-year span between Suzanne’s birth and the birth of her youngest sister. In terms of living her faith, loving, caring and working hard, Suzanne set the bar very high and has always been a role model for her younger siblings.

Suzanne was an eternal optimist and always had a positive attitude. She loved growing up in a small town and was very active in a number of school activities. She loved music and participated in choir. She also played the guitar and enjoyed leading the congregation in song during mass. Suzanne competed in a number of sports and was a spirited cheerleader.

Suzanne worked as an aid in the Lutheran Home Long-Term Care Facility while in high school. She would get up early in the morning to work a shift before school each day. This was the first of several jobs she had in her lifetime where her love of people and caring for others made an impact in people’s lives.

Suzanne would be the first to tell you that during her school years, socializing was her top priority. The sparkle in eyes, her infectious smile and genuine heart drew others to her. Suzanne had a way of making others feel special and was happiest talking with and getting to know others. She has always been a loyal friend and many of her elementary school friends are still best friends today.

After high school, Suzanne went to Cosmetology School and found a way to combine her love of people with her love of fashion, to make a career. Later, Suzanne also found a way to combine her love of music, dance and people by teaching aerobics classes for many years.

Suzanne’s greatest joy was family. She grew up in a large Catholic family where faith and love were priorities. She loved her parents and siblings and was very proud of each one of them. She also had a special relationship with her Grandmother Irene Hoelz while growing up. Surely, one of the first hugs she received in Heaven was from Grandma Irene.

The summer after Suzanne graduated from high school, her brother Rick arranged a date between her and Kevin O’Brien. The date took place on her 18th birthday and was the beginning of their love story. Suzanne and Kevin were married on December 28, 1979. They settled in Shakopee and have been there ever since.

While pursuing her path as a stylist and aerobics instructor, Suzanne also helped Kevin build Greystone Construction. In the early days, she would answer phones, run bids and do whatever it took to get the company off the ground. Over a 32-year period, Suzanne provided constant support and was instrumental in the success of the company.

Suzanne and Kevin were also blessed with three children. Suzanne’s best work was being a mother. Her love was unconditional and the role of mother came natural. She taught them faith and love and most lessons learned included fun, water and a beach. Suzanne passed along her joy and love of life to her children. Nicole (Nikki), Colin and Kaitlin have grown to start families of their own. In doing so, they provided Suzanne another outlet for her limitless capacity to love “GRANDCHILDREN.”

Suzanne has spent 15 years loving her first granddaughter, Natalie. Their relationship is special. Natalie had much more than a Grandmother in Suzanne. She had a confidant, cheerleader and best friend. Two more grandchildren arrived after Suzanne’s diagnosis with cancer. Kirby and Gianna had much less time to spend with Grandma, but touched her heart just as deeply.

Over her lifetime, Suzanne accumulated an army of friends. Her positive attitude and infectious personality drew people to her. She cherished her relationships and made a lasting impact.

That same positive attitude and her strong faith in God, helped her fight cancer and squeeze every ounce of joy out of life. She dealt with a very cruel form of cancer called Glioblastoma. It took a little piece of Suzanne from us each day for a long period. Suzanne did not let this cancer define her and it did not take away her loving spirit. Until her last breath, Suzanne was a gentle soul who appreciated everyone around her. Her love always limitless.

In honor of Suzanne’s bright personality, we will be wearing bright clothes at her celebration of life. We invite you to do the same.

Suzanne is survived by her husband, Kevin; daughters and son, Nicole O’Brien, Colin (Kristina) O’Brien, Kaitlin (Nathaniel) Gehrke; grandchildren, Natalie O’Brien, Kirby O’Brien, and Gianna Gehrke; parents, Richard and JoAnn Schmit; siblings, Rick (Jo) Schmit, Annette (Jeff) Mann, Margy (Mark) Hanson, Greg (Jody) Schmit, Chad (Traci) Schmit, Danielle (Kurt) Kruger, Stephanie (Mac) Ableidinger; many nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by her grandparents, Homer and Irene Hoelz, Sylvester Schmit and Marie Nelson; nephew, Dane Ableidinger.

All services held at the Church of St. Mark, 350 Atwood St. S., Shakopee: Visitation is Wednesday, July 31 from 3 to 8 p.m., and Thursday, August 1 from 9 to 9:45 a.m.; Mass of Christian Burial is Thursday 10 a.m. Presiding was Reverend Erik Lundgren. Serving as the urn bearer was Suzanne's granddaughter, Natalie O'Brien. Pallbearers will be Suzanne's siblings, Rick Schmit, Annette Mann, Margy Hanson, Greg Schmit, Chad Schmit, Danielle Kruger, and Stephanie Ableidinger. Interment Catholic Cemetery. Memorials preferred.

Arrangements with McNearney-Schmidt

Funeral and Cremation, Shakopee, 952-445-2755.

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