Printing Industry Mourns Passing of Katherine O’Brien

Katherine May O'Brien, well-known printing industry journalist, dies of metastatic breast cancer.

Katherine May well O’Brien

Katherine O’Brien, who served as editor-in-main of American Printer from 1997 to 2011 (a trade magazine started in 1883 as Inland Printer), handed away Saturday, June 19, at some point succumbing to a 12-year struggle with metastatic breast most cancers. These who knew Katherine — or KOB, as she preferred to indication off as her unofficial signature — don’t forget her for her sharp wit and humor, put together with prime-notch composing and interviewing skills. Diagnosed with Phase IV breast cancer in 2009, via sheer perseverance and grit Katherine worked complete-time for another five a long time ahead of opting to pursue the up coming chapter of her lifetime. She far-outlived the median survival fee of a few many years for a devastating illness that can take 40,000 lives per yr.

Katherine and I stand by a presidential statue in downtown Speedy Town, S.D, during a Kodak junket to tour Fenske Media.

I had the privilege to know KOB more than the training course of numerous a long time attending push conferences and situations, plant excursions, and domestic and international trade reveals jointly. Although technically working for aggressive publications, we bonded as fellow journalists proper from the start off — and our friendship shortly turned a private a single.

Even though delicate-spoken, when Katherine spoke, folks listened — no matter whether it was to hear her keen insight on a significant industry topic, or her sharp wit and cynicism that additional some levity. And her written prose captured her sheer intelligence, insight, and means to relay what was sometimes technological info in an straightforward-to-study, pragmatic way.

And, when I admired Katherine for the outstanding occupation she did as editor of American Printer, my admiration grew even stronger as I viewed her struggle infinite rounds of debilitating treatment options for incurable breast most cancers with a feeling of resolve, dignity, and even issue-of-factness that possibly her skill to document her health issues would aid increase larger community consciousness of the sickness, knowing of what patients go as a result of, and advocacy for far more R&D funding.

Katherine thrust herself into the cause by turning into a board member of the Metastatic Breast Most cancers Network, chronicling the devastating disease by sharing the most up-to-date research authoring real-existence profiles of other folks who battled it and creating social media posts and musings, through Fb as properly as to her additional far more than 4,000 Twitter followers.

As Katherine’s situation deteriorated fast, spouse and children associates stayed with her all over-the-clock at her apartment to assist administer hospice products and services. A shut-knit family with a number of siblings, her sister and twin brother despatched out an e mail signaling that they would examine any messages despatched to Katherine ahead of she passed. This was the email I sent her:

Dear Katherine,

I am so sorry to hear that you usually are not accomplishing so perfectly overall health-clever, but needed to attain out to permit you know how significantly I treatment about you. We surely had some great instances with each other above the a long time, memories I will by no means neglect. You have confirmed to be an inspiration to so numerous people, having difficulties with your illness with grace, power, and dignity, together with a nutritious dose of your a person-of-a-kind Katherine O’Brien biting perception of wit and humor thrown into the blend.

You designed several of the press conferences and business events we attended so much far more entertaining, and it was excellent that our longtime friendship extended past a small business friendship to a really close a single. There undoubtedly ended up many great moments we shared alongside one another. For case in point, I will hardly ever forget about the late night of consuming in Germany with Lisa Cross, when we all crawled out on to the roof of the hotel, and the hotel visitor in a space above opened his window and instructed us all to go to bed in broken English.

Katherine, I, like so a lot of people, will generally enjoy you and will by no means forget about the amazing imprint you left on all all those folks who were lucky more than enough to get to know you. I will generally cherish the times we had alongside one another and our friendship.

The outpouring from all those in the printing field who realized Katherine contained extremely equivalent sentiments and admiration. In this article are just some of the reviews I acquired from people who understood her following they acquired of her passing:

Katherine O’Brien was a unique man or woman. I satisfied her for the to start with time at Drupa 2000. She told me about her prolonged Irish household and about the letters her father wrote at Christmas time. Some of my RIT learners and I collected them into a hardcover guide with quite a few relatives images named “A Satisfied and Holy Christmas” which she distributed one Vacation time. I even now have my duplicate.

She had a wry feeling of humor. The moment, at a tour of Radio City New music Corridor, they described the dancing regimen. “It’s not Rockette science,” she commented.

I told her how proud we have been of her perform supporting women of all ages with breast most cancers. “I’m happy of myself,” she responded. It was that interior strength that gave her life this means and reason. I am grateful that Katherine O’Brien was in my existence.

— Frank Romano,  professor emeritus at RIT and founder of the Museum of Printing

Brilliant and possessed of a reward for understanding and insight as she was, Katherine O’Brien became a significantly-cherished graphic arts-centered journalist quickly soon after commencing her tenure with American Printer. It wasn’t extensive before I realized that the graphic arts was lucky to have someway gained her consideration, because Katherine could have picked out to do just about anything at all —and at minimum amount could have written about any career, sector or trigger.

Katherine was a devoted student of the business, and I admired the seriousness with which she absorbed info. She was quiet and very observant. I watched her in push conferences and in conferences, asking yourself if I could understand from her.

And then a person working day not lengthy soon after we satisfied, the female I understood as “Katherine the Major” greeted me at an event by seeking me straight in the eye and declaring just 1 sentence that captured completely the pure, natural comedy that lay at the coronary heart of the interactions we had been witnessing in that home. Katherine, the deceivingly tranquil and seemingly shy previous honor pupil, uncovered herself to be not only a major and excellent journalist, but also a hysterically funny satirist and comedian.

So a lot of of us quickly fell in really like with her, for her sharp, comedic wit superbly precise prose and most of all, her authentic spirit. I can see that grin appropriate now, as she assesses the home and all of our reactions, wheels turning as she drums up an additional just one-liner.

— Helene Smith, HSPR Strategic Communications

Katherine and I designed a extensive friendship outside the house of function. We both equally liked touring and frequented numerous destinations together. We laughed a lot, generally got lost, shared a like of Nutella with crepes, and enjoyed our drinks. She cherished beer. Katherine was clever, curious, insightful, variety, and bitingly funny. She was also very humble.

Katherine savored her trip to Iceland.

Our very last vacation together was in Iceland 3 yrs back. During a single prolonged generate she opened up about the hardships and loneliness of preventing her cancer, but she never succumbed to self-pity. Her bravery and power remaining me in awe. I will miss my close friend.

— Filomena Tamburri, Longtime Canadian printing field journal editor and journalist

Until eventually we moved to Indianapolis, much more than 5 decades back, my spouse Rhea and I lived in the future village to where by Katherine lived. Katherine did not travel, and Rhea took her to her chemo treatment options many instances. We often relished eating with her at a nearby café — even soon after we moved to Indianapolis and identified ourselves back again in Chicago.

So very unhappy. She was an incredible/inspiring person and power of instance. By means of it all, she hardly ever missing her optimism, hope, or perception of humor — she a single of the wittiest folks I know. Also, she assisted others suffering with the exact same diagnosis. The globe became a darker area when her light-weight still left it.

— Dennis Mason, Mason Consulting

At field situations when Katherine spoke, every person listened. We purchased American Printer to deliver a environment-renowned industry journalist to our business. But what we definitely acquired was a residing-life to the fullest mentor.

Katherine retired to use her final a long time offering again as a client advocate. Lots of metastatic breast cancer patients benefitted from her knowledge and frame of mind. The inspiration she offered so quite a few will preserve her memory and her spirit alive for many several years.

Katherine’s reply to “it’s excellent to see you” was always “it is wonderful to be found.”

— Andy and Julie Plata, OutputLinks Communications Group

Katherine was the boldest human being I have at any time acknowledged in her circumstance, and she focused her time ahead of loss of life to educating the public about her disease. She wrote and served on committees for the most cancers association lengthy after she obviously deserved to rest and appreciate what very little time she experienced. Katherine beat all the odds as she outlived each and every diagnostic prediction of her demise. If more folks approached dying the way she did the planet would be a a great deal greater location.

— Lisa Cross, Longtime editor at Graphic Arts Every month and presently a principal analyst at NAPCO Study

She was a amazing woman. Sitting in the push conferences in excess of the many years observing that she often questioned excellent issues and also challenged men and women. Fast witted and a true professional. Unfortunate 😥 day.

— Henry Freedman, printing sector inventor, expert, technologies specialist, publisher

Katherine O’Brien was a small-essential but substantial-depth journalist whose curiosity, consideration to detail, and enthusiasm for accuracy have been styles for all the relaxation of us in the printing trade media. Where ever things had been taking place in the printing market, there you would find Katherine, nailing down the info, chopping by means of the hoopla, and framing the tale for her viewers in exactly the right way. I’ll miss her uncompromising professionalism, her sharp wit, and, as I recall so well from the a lot of trade shows and press conferences we attended together, the light enjoyment of her corporation. R.I.P.

— Pat Henry, Longtime printing industry journalist and educator

Between so a lot of fantastic KOB recollections, it was drupa 2008, upstairs in EFI’s booth, 97 levels in the hall … Katherine: “Holly is that you dripping?”

— Holly O’Rourke, EFI

A visitation was held yesterday in Countryside, Ill., and a mass, which was livestreamed, was held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in LaGrange this morning. Internment followed in Ascension Catholic Cemetery in Libertyville.

In lieu of flowers, the household prompt that donations be made in her identify to the Robert H. Lurie Thorough Most cancers Middle of Northwestern College for Metastatic Breast Most cancers Research.

RIP KOB!

Ellen C. McGowan

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