Death of John O’Brien’s wife Karen June 4, 2021

Karen Scherkenbach O’Brien

May 2, 1946 ~ June 4, 2021 (age 75)Obituary & ServicesTribute Wall

Karen Scherkenbach O’Brien of South Bend, IN, passed away surrounded by her family on Friday, June 4, 2021.

Karen was born on May 2, 1946 to Elmer and Marjorie Scherkenbach in Milwaukee, WI. After graduation from Alverno College, where she was student body president, Karen married her high school sweetheart, John O’Brien, at St. Raymond’s Church in Mount Prospect, IL. Karen was a lover of books, flowers, and the arts, and she brought these passions to her work as an elementary school teacher and librarian. Her shared nurturing with John of their three children and devotion to their eight grandchildren, however, will always be her proudest accomplishment. Karen’s joie de vivre and generosity of spirit impacted all those around her as witnessed hosting tailgates in the Notre Dame parking lot, vacationing on Nantucket, dancing to the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, reading to her grandchildren, or preparing an elegant dinner. Her attention to detail, care for those she loved, and commitment to social justice will leave a lasting mark for generations to come.

Karen, shown with John, was Senior Ball Queen

Karen is survived by her husband, John O’Brien of South Bend, IN; six siblings: Cheryl (Rob) McGrath, Lee (Judy) Scherkenbach, Jed (Mary) Scherkenbach, Kurt (Audrey) Scherkenbach, Craig Scherkenbach, and Jeff (Kim) Scherkenbach; 3 children: Sean (Felicia) O’Brien, Meghan (Bret) Hendrickson, and Bridget (Andrew) Hoyt; and 7 grandchildren: Sophie O’Brien, Eleanor Hendrickson, Lucy O’Brien, Nat Hendrickson, Seamus O’Brien, Colm Hoyt, and Eoin Hoyt. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto, St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN, on Wednesday, June 9th, at 2 pm with Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C. officiating. Because capacity at the church is limited due to COVID restrictions, we invite you to join the live stream of the Mass at Burial will follow at a later date in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Notre Dame, IN.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Farm of the Child Honduras, visit to donate; or Hospice Foundation, Center for Hospice Care, visit to donate.