Barbara Rhode O'Brien

Obituary for Barbara Rhode O'Brien

July 5, 1938 - June 10, 2020
Lexington, South Carolina | Age 81


LEXINGTON – Barbara Rhode O'Brien, affectionately known as "Gram", age 81, of Lexington, SC passed away on June 10, 2020 surrounded by her loving family. Barbara was born in Waupun, WI, to Merlin and Edna Rhode on July 5, 1938. She grew up with her two sisters, Betty and Lila, and two brothers, Jim and Gunnar, in Rolling Prairie, WI.Gram actually wanted to be an airline hostess but found her true calling as a nurse. She graduated from Beaver Dam High School and received her RN degree from the Mount Sinai School of Nursing in Milwaukee, WI. She was the first in her family to go to college. Being a proud Navy wife afforded her the opportunity to have nursing licenses in multiple states. She worked at Mt. Sinai, Bellevue in New York City, Lutheran Hospital in Beaver Dam, Victory Memorial in Waukegan, IL, Lawrence Memorial in New London, CT, Queens Hospital in Honolulu, Charleston County Hospital in Charleston, SC, and finished her nursing career at Rikard's Nursing Home in Lexington, SC where she worked for 22 years. Gram loved her patients and wouldn't have traded her career for anything! She was also the camp nurse at Lutheridge for 15 years in Arden, NC, and enjoyed watching her children grow up there each summer. Gram loved to travel, take pictures, and go to the beach. She visited every state and traveled overseas as well. She even drove a bus under the Eifel Tower! Gram was part of the strategic planning group that started LICS (Lexington Interfaith Community Services), now known as Mission Lexington, which has assisted countless numbers of people in the Lexington community. Her two favorite family trips included a cruise to Alaska and a trip to Ireland. She was a sports aficionado and loved NASCAR, all types of football, always cheered for the Gonzaga basketball team, and loved baseball as well. There would often be multiple sporting events on the TVs throughout the house! But, the Green Bay Packers were her true favorites and she bled Green and Gold! Go Pack Go! Gram was very grounded in her faith, and raised her children in that same manner. All glory to God for the amazing life she lived!Gram is survived by her loving husband of 56 years, Thomas J. O'Brien; their children, Kelly Hawsey, Sean (Marcy) O'Brien and Shannon (Ashley) Burnett, all of Lexington. Her legacy will live on through them and her five greatest gifts – her grandchildren: Ryan, Madison, Luke, Alex, and Abby. She is also survived by her siblings, Betty Larson (Beaver Dam, WI), Lila (Bob) Koch (Beaver Dam, WI), and Jim (Jan) Rhode (LeSueur, MN), along with numerous nieces, nephews and friends that she has dearly loved for many years.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Jerry "Gunnar" Rhode, and her brother-in-law, Jack Larson.

A private family service will be held at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in Lexington, SC on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at 10:00 AM followed by interment in the church cemetery. Due to the current pandemic, the family will live stream the service on YouTube ( so others may virtually attend her service. The interment will also be live streamed by Caughman-Harman Funeral Home, Lexington Chapel, on their Facebook page (

The family would like to extend their most sincere appreciation to Dr. Madden, Cindy, and Paula of Lexington Oncology, our three Stephanie's who took care of Gram during chemo visits, and all of the employees that greeted us with kind smiles each and every time.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Gram to St. Stephen's Lutheran Church Building Fund or Youth Fund, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, or Mission Lexington.

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Koepsell-Murray Funeral & Cremation Services, Beaver Dam

N7199 N. Crystal Lake Road
Beaver Dam, WI 53916
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