Cover photo for Saralou Vernette O'Brien's Obituary
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1932 Saralou 2023

Saralou Vernette O'Brien

December 4, 1932 — December 3, 2023


Saralou Vernette O'Brien entered eternal life on December 3, 2023, surrounded by family, at the age of 90. Saralou was born December 4, 1932, the last of four children to James D. and Maroie (Sampson) Leaphart in Missoula, MT. She attended schools in Missoula. After high school, she attended the University of Montana and was in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She made the decision to become a nurse and headed to Rochester, MN, graduating from the Methodist-Kahler School of Nursing, a diploma program, in May 1956. She continued at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis obtaining her Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 1958. 

Returning to Montana, she worked as a school nurse in Billings, MT, before starting her career as a Public Health Nurse for the Indian Health Service (IHS) on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in 1960. On May 12, 1962, she was united in marriage to Raymond R. O’Brien, Jr. in Poplar, MT. They made their home in Poplar where they raised their children. She retired from the IHS in 1988, but continued working as a nurse for several years in the community. They moved to Manhattan, MT, in 2013 to live with their son. She enjoyed reading, knitting baby blankets for family and friends, and was active in American Legion Auxiliary and the Altar Society of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Saralou is survived by her four children, Gary O'Brien, of Fort Collins, CO; Amy (Michael) Buckanaga, of Bemidji, MN; Dan (Sheila) O'Brien, of Malta, MT; and Douglas O'Brien, of Manhattan, MT; seven grandchildren, Anthony (Elizabeth) Meisner; Derek, Trent, and Erin Buckanaga; Keegan O'Brien; Grant O’Brien and Jillian (Cordel) Salsbery; and two great-grandsons; sister-in-law, Patricia O'Brien, of Billings, MT; and numerous nieces and nephews. She also had her Manhattan family; Steve and Katie Loessberg; Adam, Amanda and Pierce Priquette; Sue Whittaker, and friends from the Manhattan Senior Center. She was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; brothers, Charles D (Don) and Clark Leaphart; and sister, Frances Haas.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, December 9, 2023, 11:00 a.m., at Holy Family Catholic Church in Three Forks, MT. She will be laid to rest with her husband Raymond in the Poplar Cemetery in the summer of 2024. Family would like to extend thanks to Home Instead Senior Care - Bozeman, Dr. Leslee Kane and Jennifer Sofie, CNP, Bozeman Health, and Enhabit Hospice of Bozeman for the excellent care provided.

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

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, December 8, 2023

6:00 - 7:00 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

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Saturday, December 9, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Mountain (no DST) time)

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Saturday, December 9, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

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