WAKEFIELD–Former Narragansett Times Editor Marcia Grann-O’Brien, 72, of Wakefield, died Tuesday.
O’Brien was a lifelong journalist and writer who won numerous awards during her career. In addition to her work at The Narragansett Times, she founded the Three Village Times on Long Island, served as editor of the Warwick Beacon, worked for former Gov. Lincoln Almond and was inducted into the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame.
She is remembered by her co-workers as a bright, wise and fiery woman who took the time to share her wealth of experience with all and sundry.
Sue Kairnes Baker, who currently works for Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, was a reporter for O’Brien at the Warwick Beacon in the mid-1990s.
“Marcia was great,” said Baker during a phone interview Wednesday. “She was the type of editor you learned from. She loved her craft so much and she wanted to share her knowledge with you. She taught us the importance of fact checking and getting a human face to the story. She wasn’t just a mentor in terms of reporting, she also had experience doing things like working for Amnesty International and teaching at a prison.”
Baker said that friendship was at the top of the list of O’Brien’s gifts.
“She had a great sense of humor and was not only a former coworker but also an extraordinarily good friend,” she said. “Marcia was one of the most non-judgmental persons I’ve ever met.
O’Brien was an animal lover who took her husky with her everywhere, including into the editorial office of The Narragansett Times. Never shy nor intimidated, she had the rare capacity to be tough as nails one moment and nurturing the next.
Rudi Hempe, who sat with O’Brien at many an editorial meeting during his years as editor of The Standard Times, remembers her as a “consummate community reporter and editor.”
“She was a great editor and dedicated to South County,” said Hempe. “She was a very personable worker, very conscientious with a good sense of humor.”
Hempe added that in addition to being an animal lover and a very religious woman, O’Brien was also a gun enthusiast who had a permit to carry. “She was big on firearms,” he said.
In the early 2000s, there was a photo hanging in The Narragansett Times editorial office that spoke to O’Brien’s passion for guns. In it, she had her hands wrapped around a handgun, shockingly blue eyes locked in on a shooting range target, red hair sticking out defiantly from her ear muffs.
She was anything but typical.
“Marcia gave so much and we’re all the more enriched for it,” said Sue Kennedy, who worked for O’Brien at the Warwick Beacon. “Marcia had an amazing capacity for the wholeness of a person….she was as wise as she was funny. She will be remembered as someone who was nurturing to people, not just reporters.”
O’Brien is survived by three children, Colin Schwen of New York, N.Y., Gavin Schwen of East Northport, N.Y., and Vanessa (Dave) Schalck of Walkerton, Ind.; four grandchildren; and her dear cousin, Avis O’Neill of Wakefield. She was the sister of the late Dolores Josephson.
A funeral service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 383 Old North Road, Kingston. Burial will follow in St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery, Warwick. Visiting hours will be held Friday, Sept. 27 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Avery-Storti Funeral Home, 88 Columbia St., Wakefield. For guest book and condolences, www.averystortifuneralhome.com .