John “Jack” O’Brien was born in Boston, Massachusetts on June 9, 1930 to Helen (Reilly) and Frances J. O’Brien. His mother worked in a factory during the World War II, and his father was a postal worker. He grew up in South Boston, and then Mattapan in Dorchester, graduating from Hyde Park High School. He then enlisted in the Marines, in which he served for five years. After his service, he moved back to the Boston area, married Jadine (Raines) O’Brien, and worked for a few years in a Cambridge factory. While working at that factory, he met and became impressed with a young Senate candidate, John F. Kennedy. O’Brien and his wife moved to Maine in 1957, and got involved with the Maine Democratic Party. O’Brien went to work for the United States Postal Service, while his wife went to school, and eventually became a leader in the Maine Democratic Party. O’Brien served in the Maine State Legislature in 1970. Both he and his wife were active supporters of Kennedy, Muskie, as well as other Democratic candidates.
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Beam, Greg, "O'Brien, John "Jack" oral history interview" (2000). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 309.