We just learned this afternoon that a legend of Washington State politics has passed away. John L. O’Brien, who represented the south Seattle area in the legislature from 1939 to 1992 passed away this morning at the age of 95. It’s somewhat fitting that O;Brien, who spent most of his life in the legislature would pass away on the final day of the legislative session.
O’Brien was Speaker of the House for eight years and was considered one of the most powerful leaders in state history. The House office building in Olympia is named in his honor. O’Brien was also a skilled parliamentarian. As I write this, House members are memorializing him on the floor, including Rep. Helen Sommers, Rep. Bill Grant and Rep. Shirley Hankins, the only members left in the House who actually served alongside O’Brien.