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Terrence "Terry" J. O'Brien
December 5, 1958 ~ June 26, 2023 (age 64) 64 Years Old
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Terrence “Terry” John O’Brien, age 64, left us on June 26, 2023. Terry, son of John E. O’Brien and Rose R. (Feist) O’Brien, was born on December 5, 1958, in St. Cloud, MN. Terry had an older brother, Dan, an older sister, Kathy and a younger sister, Kellie. He grew up in Brooklyn Center, MN and graduated from Brooklyn Center High School in 1977. Terry worked at a local gas station and started snowplowing with his first truck in high school. He enjoyed spending time outside, swimming, playing football and baseball, as well as driving his truck and riding his motorcycle. Some of his fondest memories were camping in the mountains in Montana with Donnie DeYott and his family.
A few years after graduation, he purchased a property in Alexandria. Over the years, he transformed the property into a hobby farm, as well as his home. The hobby farm was very sentimental to him, as his father helped him pick it out, log the wood using horses and build the first buildings. Terry was well-known in the community for having a variety of animals. He had horses, whitetail deer and tigers, though his favorites were a lab named Duffy, and a black bear named Yogi. Duffy, the lab, knew hundreds of commands; he could bring Terry his shoes, climb ladders, turn lights on and off, and much, much more! Yogi, the black bear, walked in parades, rode in the truck and loved ice cream and swimming. One day, Terry got pulled over by a highway patrolman so the officer could see his “dog.”
On November 19, 1988, Terry was united in marriage to Vickie Marie (Solmonson) O’Brien in Glenwood. The marriage was blessed with two daughters, Randee and Katya. Several of Randee and Katya’s friends also viewed Terry as a father figure. In 2003, Terry and Vickie purchased a second property in Battle Lake. Terry fenced the meadows, ran water and power lines, and brush-hogged five miles of trails through the 160-acre property. In the fall, Terry enjoyed having gatherings at the farm with his friends and family. They enjoyed four-wheeling, fishing, horseback riding and bonfires, as well as reminiscing and joking around. He loved his pack of chihuahuas and listening to music by Rod Stewart, Hank Williams Jr. and Frank Sinatra. However, his true hobbies were working, transforming properties and running heavy equipment. He was a gifted self-taught equipment operator and could run any machine. Terry was also known for his entrepreneurial spirit and big ideas. He owned and operated several companies over the years; Shamrock Snowplowing, Shamrock Sales & Service, Shamrock Sod & Landscaping, Tag-Along Trailers, Santa’s Land & Zoo and Custom Boardwalks.
Terry’s favorite holiday was Christmas; each December he traded snowplowing for toys at Toys “R” Us and donated to families in need. He also opened a Christmas theme park, “Santa’s Land,” at the Alexandria property. He spent months decorating and preparing to open it free to the public for the twelve days of Christmas. Visitors enjoyed horse-drawn sleigh and buggy rides, Christmas lights, decorations and music, baby animals and Santa’s Reindeer. Volunteers also dressed up as fairytale characters with buildings/scenes for visitors to tour. After an elf checked the naughty list, children could visit Mr. and Mrs. Claus in the Santa House. The Grinch could also be visited, though he wasn’t very welcoming and could often be found smashing Christmas presents. Terry’s favorite Christmas song was “All I Want for Christmas is You,” by Mariah Carey. He had a true passion for sharing the Christmas spirit and bringing joy to others.
Terry is survived by his children, Randee O’Brien and Katya O’Brien Preston; grandchild, Bentley Courneya; brother Dan O’Brien; sisters Kathy (Bob) Holper and Kellie (Jeff) Pinkston; along with many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends, as well as his family in Montana. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Rose O’Brien, as well as his wife, Vickie.
Terry will be remembered for his love for friends and family, animals and Montana, as well as his entrepreneurial spirit, humor and giving heart. May his memory be blessed.
Services and the spreading of ashes will take place in Deer Lodge, MT at a later date.