September 1, 2009
Statement from Senator Ken Yager on the passing of Senator Anna Belle Clement O’Brien
(September 1, 2009, 10:15 AM) – “Truly the First Lady of Tennessee politics, Anna Belle O’Brien was one of the most remarkable women in this state. The news of her death both saddens me and brings back a rush of pleasant memories.
“I had the privilege to work with Senator O’Brien while I was Roane County Executive (1982-2006). During this time she taught me the truism that “if you don’t ask, you won’t get it.” I learned from her the art of compromise and the value of persistence. Her Nashville influence brought many projects to Roane County. She helped with building bridges, additions to Roane State Community College, the interstate interchanges and much more throughout the 12th Senatorial District. Anna Belle, as she wanted us to call her, could be quite tenacious, but was also very compassionate. She cared about people, especially those who couldn’t speak for themselves. She also did what she thought was right. I recall her crossing party lines to provide key support for then Governor Alexander’s Better Schools Program.
“The passing of Sen. Anna Belle O’Brien turns a page in history. She leaves a generous legacy of support for education and the mentally ill. Her efforts resulted in generations of Tennesseans, young and old, having better education opportunities. And because of her support, the stigma attached to mental illness has been removed. We can best honor her by continuing to support these worthy goals. “