Rep. Elaine C. O’Brien, D-Suffield, died Friday at the Hospital at Hebrew Health Care in West Hartford after a long struggle with brain cancer, the House Majority office announced. She was 58.
O’Brien, a one-time commuter airline pilot, wife, mother of three and longtime member of the Board of Education in Suffield, was a two-term legislator elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2012 after her cancer diagnosis.
In a message posted on her legislative page, Rep. David Baram, D-Bloomfield, described visiting O’Brien at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston three weeks ago and again this week at Hebrew Health Care.
“Elaine never once talked about herself. She only wanted to know how others were doing, and to discuss issues at the Capitol and in her District,” Baram said. “She was so brave, driven and optimistic. During her last few weeks, Elaine kept saying how lucky she was, to have have such a supportive family and so many friends.”
O’Brien did not return to the Capitol after her third surgery in November.
O’Brien was a vice chair of the Appropriations Committee and member of the Commerce and Transportation committees. She represented the 61st District, which included Suffield, East Granby and part of Windsor.
House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, and House Majority Leader Joseph Aresimowicz announced her death.
“Even while battling illness, she continued to meet with her legislative aide to go over her constituents’ priorities for this legislative session,” Aresimowicz said. “Elaine never lost her optimism or stopped smiling as she fought a courageous battle.”
“Elaine was a great friend to all of us, her beautiful smile and great sense of humor will be missed. Our condolences go out to her husband Justin, her children and her entire family,” Sharkey said.
She is survived by her husband, Justin Donnelly, whom she married in 2010, her three children and seven step children.
Calling hours are Wednesday from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Heritage Funeral Home, 1240 Mountain Road, West Suffield.
A memorial service will be held 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 1 at Suffield High School.