Henry M. O’Bryan Jr., 77, retired research engineer at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., died suddenly on March 11, 2012, at his family cottage in Summit Hill, Pa. He died shortly after a day spent working outdoors chipping wood and playing ball with his granddaughter, two of his favorite activities.
Condolences may be sent by visiting Higgins Funeral Home. Born Aug. 20, 1934, in Cambridge, Mass., to Eleanor Shea and Henry M. O’Bryan, Mr. O’Bryan was raised in Cambridge, Mass., and resided in Palmerton, Pa., Bristol, England, Washington, D.C., and Belmont, Mass. He graduated from the St. Sebastian’s School in Newton, Mass., in 1952. Henry graduated from Notre Dame in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and then served in the Army from 1956 to 1958.
After the Army, he matriculated at the University of Michigan, earning a master’s degree in 1960 and a PhD in 1963, both in materials engineering. There he also met his wife, the former Joan Kathleen Murray, of Chicago, Ill. The couple married in 1961 and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last August, in the joyous company of family and friends.
Henry was employed by Bell Laboratories/Lucent Technologies in Murray Hill for 36 years as a materials scientist, where he was involved with electronic ceramics and thin film sputtering. He was responsible for 12 patents, dealing with temperature stable low loss microwave ceramics, discoveries that proved important for microwave communications, particularly pertaining to cell phone technology. He was a past chairman of the Electronics Division of The American Ceramic Society. He retired from Bell Laboratories in 1999.
A resident of Plainfield since the early 1960s, Henry was a member of the St. Bernard and St. Stanislaus Parish Council, the Plainfield Area YMCA Board, and was president of the United Way of Plainfield. He was a committed coach of Little League baseball, active with YMCA swimming, as well as a Union County Master Gardener. He also was a dedicated volunteer for the Greater Plainfield Habitat for Humanity and the Missionaries of Charity Convent in downtown Plainfield.
Surviving are his wife, Joan Murray O’Bryan; his five children, Joseph (Gabriele) of Herndon, Va., Dr. Jean Knight (Simon) of Philadelphia, Pa., Dr. Martin (Rachel) of Denver, Colo., John (Michele) of Glencoe, Ill., and Thomas (Gretchen) of Cranford, N.J.; nine grandchildren, Joan, Patrick, Miles, Owen, Cleo, Hugh, Sofie, Tess and Maeve, and two sisters, Eleanor Smith of Culpeper, Va., and Sarah Snow of Short Hills, N.J. Donations may be made in his memory to the Greater Plainfield Habitat for Humanity, 2 Randolph Rd., Plainfield, N.J. 07060.
(Obituary originally appeared published in Star-Ledger (N.J.).)