Nancy Sue (Reavis) O’Brian died in Norman, OK on Sunday April 26, 2020. She was born in Hobbs, New Mexico, to Ray and Clifton Reavis on June 5, 1939. The family later moved to Pauls Valley, OK where Nancy graduated from Pauls Valley High School in 1957. She attended the University of Oklahoma where she got a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1961. Nancy met the love of her life, Tom O’Brian, while at OU, and they were married on October 6, 1962. They had three children together; Shaun, Kelly, and Kevin.
Nancy spent most of her professional career in Norman with Norman Public Schools, beginning in 1961, until her retirement in 2000. She served as a teacher, curriculum director and assistant superintendent, prior to being named Superintendent of Schools in 1997. She was a tireless advocate for all children; she was a leader who represented each of the NPS's core values: integrity, inclusiveness, collaboration, and optimism. One could certainly rely on her optimism, as her "tell it like it is" philosophy was usually tinged with a great deal of wisdom, wit, and humor, providing levity and hope no matter the situation. Nancy always had a story to tell, and her stories were representations of the genuine relationships she forged over the years. She lifted others up and served as a mentor and role model to all, her laugher was infectious.
She was not only a successful leader in our schools/community, but she was also a recognized educational leader throughout our state. Dr. O'Brian taught coursework in the College of Education at The University of Oklahoma and was a member of OU's Regent's Alumni Board; she was recognized as the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Administrator of the Year; and was inducted into the Oklahoma Educator Hall of Fame in 1998. After retiring, she received the ATHENA Award, which honors an individual in the Norman community who has attained and personified the highest level of professional excellence in a business or profession, has devoted time and energy to the community in a meaningful way, and has opened doors of leadership opportunities for women.
Nancy was preceded in death by her parents; her sisters, Linda Lassiter and Julie Garrison; her brother, Billy Reavis; and her husband, Tom O’Brian. She is survived by her children, Shaun of Norman, OK, Kelly of Seattle WA, and Kevin of Tulsa, OK; as well as her grandchildren, Kate and Ella of Tulsa, OK.
A memorial service will be held in May, a date to be announced later, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Norman.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Norman Public School Foundation or Alzheimer’s Association.
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