Cover photo for Nella Bernice O'Brien's Obituary
Nella Bernice O'Brien Profile Photo
1934 Nella 2023

Nella Bernice O'Brien

June 24, 1934 — October 11, 2023

Nella Bernice O’Brien, 89, formerly of Schleswig and Storm Lake, IA, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, October 11, 2023.

Nella was born in Muscatine, Iowa on June 24, 1934 to E. Bernard and Nella (Dyche) Chayka.  The family moved to Sioux City where she graduated from Heelan High School. She was working at the local phone company when she met and married the love of her life, Robert (“BJ”) O’Brien, on June 19, 1954, at St. Boniface Church, beginning 64 years of love, laughter, dancing and singing.

The family moved during the early years to Davenport, back to Sioux City, St. Paul, MN and Worthington, MN before settling in 1966 in Schleswig, IA where they continued raising their family. Tragedy struck the family in 1967 when son and brother, Kevin, died in an accident. The Schleswig community helped them navigate through their grief, proving to the family that they had found their home.  The family suffered a second loss in 2020 when daughter and sister, Colleen, passed away after a long illness.

While in Schleswig, Nella became involved in the Community Betterment Program. She quickly became a leader and eventually a judge for Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. 

Nella and her husband Bob moved to Storm Lake in 1983, where she was quickly recognized as a leader and eager volunteer.  She was proud to share her Community Betterment Program knowledge; bringing success to Storm Lake. In 1990, she was recognized as the recipient of the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award by Governor Terry Branstad.  She was also inducted into the Community Betterment Hall of Fame and the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame in 1995.  During her time in Storm Lake Nella helped the community with the “Field of Dreams” campaign, winning a Community Betterment Award. She also served as a member of the Iowa Commission on National & Community Service, the Board of Trustees of Methodist Manor from 1993-2001, Co-Commodore of The “Star Spangled Spectacular,” the Storm Lake Diversity Task Force Committee, the Governor’s Volunteer Advisory Council and the Iowa State Community Betterment Advisory Council.  

Those left to cherish Nella’s memory include her children Bob, Jr.; Kathleen and her children, Matthew, Kelli (Matt), Kyle and Nathan (Caitlin); Timothy and his wife Julie and their children, Stephanie (Brad), Brett (Aynsley) and Erin (Nick); Patrick and his wife Sherri and their children, Ian and Molli (Tyler); son-in-law Mark Jackson (Colleen) and his son Christgen (Jessikah); and Maureen (O’Brien) Hall (Ron) and also her 14 beautiful great-grandchildren. Nella is also survived by her sister Irma Lorber, husband Chuck, sisters-in-law Shiuvaun (O’Brien) Nasypany, husband Ray, and Mary (Tom) O’Brien, and her many loved nieces and nephews.

Nella was preceded in death by her husband Bob, Sr., son Kevin and daughter Colleen; sisters Carol Morgenstern and Alice Janney; brothers-in-law Jack, Mike, Phil, Don and Tom O’Brien, Albert Aiken and Leon Morgenstern; Sisters-in-law Ruth, Gladys and Doris O’Brien and Patty Aiken; as well as nephews Danny Morgenstern, Danny O’Brien, and John O’Brien; nieces Nora Aiken Scott and Peg (O’Brien) Reit.

A Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, October 21, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, followed by burial in Calvary Cemetery, both in Sioux City. Immediately following the burial, a luncheon at the parish center will be hosted by the family.  Those wishing to join the Mass virtually may do so by following this link:

Visitation will take place on Friday, October 20, 2023 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. with a vigil service at 7:00 p.m. at Meyer Brother Colonial Chapel 3220 Stone Park Blvd, in Sioux City, IA.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to Arbor Springs Dementia Community as a thank you for the love and care they showed Nella the last four years. (7951 EP True Pkwy, West Des Moines, IA 50266)

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Nella Bernice O'Brien, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Prayer Service

Friday, October 20, 2023

7:00 - 7:30 pm (Central time)

Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel

3220 Stone Park Blvd, Sioux City, IA 51104

Visitation with the family from 5:00 - 7:00 P.M.
Vigil Service at 7:00 P.M.

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, October 21, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

3012 Jackson St, Sioux City, IA 51104

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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