Skip to main content

Charles A. O’Brien

July 01, 2022

Visitation: No prior visitation
Services were held privately O’BRIEN – Charles A.
Of Williamsville, NY, formerly of
Sloan, passed away on January 7,
2022 at the age 90. Loving husband
of the late Marcella O’Brien; beloved
father of Mark (Holly) O’Brien and
Lisa (Andrew) McClure; survived by
his brothers Donald (Jan) O’Brien
and Richard O’Brien; stepfather of
Mary Sue (Reggie) Eckley, Carrie
(Bill) Schrock, Beth Ann (Tony) Otero,
Stacey Livingstone, Michael (Danielle)
Funseth, the late Linda (Bob) McLean
and the late Larry (Diane) Funseth;
also survived by many grandchildren
and great-grandchildren. Charlie was
a long-time Teacher, Athletic Director
and Volleyball Coach at Cleveland Hill
High School. He was inducted into the
Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame
in 2017.
Services were held privately.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be
made to Hospice of NY or University
of Buffalo Anatomical Gift Program.
Arrangements by THE DIETRICH
FUNERAL HOME, INC. Condolences
at When athletic director Charles A. O’Brien first organized a boys volleyball team at Cheektowaga’s Cleveland Hill High School in 1960, it wasn’t recognized locally as a competitive high school sport. He changed that. As chairman of the Erie County Interscholastic Conference (ECIC) Athletic Directors Committee, he pushed to make volleyball a demonstration sport, then got it fully accredited in 1964. Considered the founding father of volleyball in Western New York, he died Jan. 7 under hospice care in Orchard Heights in Orchard Park after a period of declining health. He was 90. Born in his parents’ home in Sloan, the second youngest of seven children, he was the son of a railroad worker. At Sloan High School, he was a standout athlete in football, basketball and track and field. Attending the University at Buffalo on an athletic scholarship, he was a wide receiver on the football team and co-captain of the track and field team. When he graduated in 1954, he held university records for discus and javelin. He was invited to try out by the Green Bay Packers, but turned it down because he felt that pro football at that time wasn’t much of a career. Instead, Mr. O’Brien took a job teaching physical education at Cleveland Hill High School in 1955. He became athletic director in 1958 and coached football, basketball, cross-country and tennis. His greatest success, however, was volleyball. His Golden Eagle teams dominated their league, winning 14 consecutive championships and 11 sectional titles. They compiled a winning streak of 119 games and did not lose a home game from 1960 to 1977. His win-loss record as a volleyball coach was 225-15. When he earned a mention in the "Faces in the Crowd" feature in the February 1974 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine, he had been honored as Western New York Coach of the Year. He became the first member of the Cleveland Hill High School Hall of Fame in 1990 and the first to be inducted into the Western New York Boys Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2010. The Western New York Volleyball Officials Association has named its Coach of the Year award after him. He and his Golden Eagle volleyball teams were inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. He married the former Marcella “Marcy” Funseth in 1982 and, after he retired from teaching in 1986, they lived at a home she had in Estes Park, Colo., where he sold houses. They returned to Western New York to be near their families in the mid-2000s. She died in 2019. Surviving are a son, Mark; a daughter, Lisa McClure; a stepson, Michael Funseth; four stepdaughters, Mary Sue Eckley, Carrie Schrock, Beth Ann Otero and Stacey Livingstone; two brothers, Donald and Richard; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Services were private.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.