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June 12, 2003

OBITUARY: Nancy O’Brien-Bleil

Nancy O’Brien-Bleil, manager of advanced training and user services in the Office of Institutional Advancement, died suddenly May 31, 2003, of an apparent heart attack. She was 61.

“What people are commenting most about was how optimistic and positive Nancy always was,” said her supervisor, Margaret A. Duronio, associate vice chancellor for advancement services.

Duronio also praised O’Brien-Bleil’s patience in training staff to use Institutional Advancement’s three-year-old information system. “Nancy never gave up on people,” Duronio said. “She never got tired of helping them and making sure they understood the system.”

O’Brien-Bleil earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in communication studies at Pitt, and had extensive training in computer software programs and word processing. Before beginning work at Pitt in September 2000, she was a software trainer locally for Sarcom, Inc.

Among Bleil’s survivors is her husband, Jim O’Brien-Bleil, whom she married in June 1999 in Heinz Memorial Chapel. “Even though Nancy had grandchildren, she and Jim thought of themselves as newlyweds and acted that way,” said Duronio. “Jim would send flowers to her office.”

Nancy, in return, would indulge her husband’s model railroading hobby with surprise gifts of equipment he was “too cheap” to buy for himself, Jim O’Brien-Bleil recalled with a laugh.

“Nancy was divorced about 20 years ago,” he said, “and she used to say that before she and I met, she hadn’t found anybody she could call her soul-mate. I’d had a bad divorce myself about 10 years ago. We were introduced by a common friend, and we just clicked.

“We both believed that you should treat the person you’re married to better than anyone else in the world. So many people, they have a hard time at work with the boss and they come home and yell at their spouse. Nancy and I tried never to do that. We got a late start with each other, but we packed a lot into the five years we were together.”

In addition to her husband, she is survived by three children, Denice Hallstein, Lynn Hallstein Bruehwiler and Jon O’Brien Hallstein; stepchildren Jim Bleil and Rachel Bleil, and grandchildren Jean-Phillip Bruehwiler and Joshua Richard Bruehwiler.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, North Side.

— Bruce Steele

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