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American Printer Editor-in-Chief Katherine O’Brien Passes Away

Press release from the issuing company

Katherine May O’Brien, beloved sister and aunt, tireless advocate for metastatic breast cancer patients, and brilliant writer, passed away surrounded by her family on Saturday, June 19th. She is preceded in death by her parents James and Elaine, and is survived by her brothers Jim (Michelle), John (Shannon),  Kevin (Sarah), Patrick (Maggie), and Peter, and her sister Ellen (Michael Cleary). She will be deeply missed by her 16 nieces and nephews and many friends, to whom she was affectionately known as “Doots.” Katherine traveled the world as editor-in-chief of American Printer Magazine. Once she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2009, she quickly became well-known for her writing, empathy, and wit as a patient advocate. Katherine sat on the board of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network and amused more than 4000 people on Twitter with her incisive musings.

The visitation is Monday, June 21st from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at Hallowell & James Funeral Home, 1025 W. 55th St., Countryside. Chapel prayers 9:15am Tuesday, June 22nd at the funeral home followed by 10:00 AM Mass at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, LaGrange. Mass will be livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/SFXParish.LG/live/. Family and friends are invited to meet at 12:30 PM at the cemetery office of Ascension Catholic Cemetery, 1920 Buckley Rd., Libertyville for interment. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University for Metastatic Breast Cancer Research. Funeral Home Phone: 708-352-6500


By Craig Kevghas on Jun 21, 2021

She was loved, appreciated, and a blessing to so many. Love and Peace to her family and friends.


By Cary Sherburne on Jun 21, 2021

Katherine was a bright light in our industry over her many years as one of our leading journalists. When she chose to leave that role, it was to spend her time helping others who suffered from breast cancer, a horrible disease that ultimately took her away from us. Katherine was smart, funny and a delight to spend time with. I especially enjoyed her visit here to the Dominican Republic when her cruise ship called in to Puerto Plata. We spent a fun day together, and it was great to see the country through fresh eyes. We laughed a lot and swapped many stories. She will be terribly missed.


By Mark Hunt on Jun 21, 2021

Katherine was a leading journalist in the print sector, ever-present at industry events and gatherings in the US and abroad. A great listener, a quick study and an on-point writer, she was also blessed with a wry sense humor. RIP Katherine.


By Jill Taylor on Jun 21, 2021

Such a talented writer. She will indeed be missed.


By Hal Hinderliter on Jun 21, 2021

Oh, such terrible news. Katherine (or KOB, as I and many others called her) was a wonderful person, a brilliant author, and an unparalled editor. He patience, good will, and skillful use of the red pen taught me more about writing than any college composition course. There are many fond memories of traveling the globe with KOB to exotic climes for industry briefings. Her sharp wit could make the longest flight delay seem not so bad. When I apologized to her for leaving AP to work with Bill Esler at GAM, she laughingly said, "send me dead flowers!" Katherine, I'll bring some (not yet dead) flowers to you today. Missing you already.


By Patrick Henry on Jun 21, 2021

We won't see another editor with Katherine's special gifts – she was always in the front of the front rank of print industry journalists. The industry already seems smaller and sadder without her. We'll all miss her steely professionalism, her dry humor, and her kindness to one and all. A dreadful, dreadful loss...condolences to her family and to everyone else who loved her.


By Eric Frank on Jun 21, 2021

Katherine was a very, very special person. She was a friend to all, a great journalist and she gave so much to our industry. She will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers to her family and to everyone else who cared for her as she touched so many people in such a positive way.


By Carlos Silgado on Jun 21, 2021

Remembered fellow editor, friendly conversationalist, you will always be missed.


By David Murphy on Jun 21, 2021

I always enjoyed working with Katherine on numerous stories and I regularly following her published work. She was an excellent journalist and a real professional, but she is more importantly known and remembered as likable, kind-hearted, and genuine.


By Kevin Karstedt on Jun 21, 2021

Katherine, you will be missed both professionally and personally... your contributions to our industry and to the lives of all those around you have been an inspiration. I thank God for giving you to us.


By Eric Vessels on Jun 21, 2021

What a big loss! Katherine was brilliant and always very nice and kind to me. She was quick to share her thoughts and perspective not for personal gain, but for the wider good. She will be deeply missed. Condolences to family and friends. We lost a great one. _/\_


By Noel Jeffrey on Jun 21, 2021

Katherine was always a pleasant traveling companion with a keen sense of humor and and precise insights into whatever it was we were covering. I'm honored to have been a colleague. My condolences and prayers to her family.

Noel Jeffrey


By Pete Basiliere on Jun 21, 2021

Without Katherine to edit my words, I will humbly echo the thoughts that my colleagues posted above. RIP, Katherine, your presence here will not be forgotten.


By Birgit Backofen Rothacker on Jun 21, 2021

Katherine was an inspiration to many but especially to women in the industry. She will be missed.


By Bob Raus on Jun 21, 2021

Katherine was a force of nature. Passionate, brilliant, kind and friend to everyone! Her efforts to raise awareness of metastatic breast cancer were heroic and selfless. I will never see another pink ribbon emblem without thinking of her grace, desire to help others and especially her smile. RIP and you will be missed by all. :-(


By Irvin Press on Jun 21, 2021

I am sure that there are many of us with a reasonable history in the graphic arts industry who know that we have lost a very special person. Katherine was polite, dedicated, knowledgeable, helpful, a wonderful writer—and was so with such an exceptional wit and sense of humor. I am certain that our industry’s loss six years ago was far more fulfilled by her support of others who have lived with advanced stages of breast cancer. What a legacy Katherine leaves behind, and how many of us feel empty today.



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