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William J. “Billy” O’Brien, veteran, power boating enthusiast

March 2, 1942 – July 1, 2015

VARYSBURG – William J. “Billy” O’Brien, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran and powerboat racing enthusiast, died Wednesday in Buffalo General Medical Center. He was 73.

Raised in the Riverside neighborhood of Buffalo, Mr. O’Brien graduated from Riverside High School and served in the Navy from 1961 to 1967. Mr. O’Brien was on standby in 1961 during the Bay of Pigs crisis.

Growing up, Mr. O’Brien spent a lot of time on the water with his grandfather and, after leaving the Navy, joined the American Powerboat Association and remained a member for 10 to 15 years, according to his wife, Patricia.

Mr. O’Brien drove his beloved E283 “Wha Happen” boat, which he raced many times at Isle View Park, often placing in the top three.

Mr. O’Brien, a Varysburg resident, retired from General Motors in 2005 after 35 years as a machinist and machine repairman.

Survivors, in addition to his wife, include a son, John; a daughter, Michelle Staggers; two stepchildren, April Majewski and Kirt Lewis; and nine grandchildren.

A veteran’s service will be held at 8 p.m. Monday in Robinson & Hackemer Funeral Home, 246 N. Main St., Warsaw. A graveside service with military honors will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Forest Lawn.

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