Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Edward E. O’Neill – eulogy

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Thank you to those who are here because you knew my father. And thank you to those who are here not because you knew him but because you know Alice or someone else in the family. Those of you who knew him will miss him. Those of you who didn’t know him missed out.

Last summer, a few days before he had surgery, my dad was reading the newspaper and he told me that he didn’t want one of “those flowery obituaries.” I asked, “Do you mean the kind where it says, ‘After showing the courage of Superman, the moral strength of Atticus Finch and the physical strength of Hercules, Edward was carried aloft into the immaculate unknown by a flock of angels on a gilded chariot’”? “Yeah, nothing like that,” he said. And I promised we wouldn’t do that.

So when we wrote his obituary, which appeared in Sunday’s Cape Cod Times, we kept that promise and stuck to just the facts.

But he didn’t make me promise anything about his eulogy. So forgive me, Pops, if I talk about something other than the biographical highlights, such as the pride you had in being an Eagle Scout or your service in Korea with the Air Force during the Korean War.

Some people think that accounting is a dry profession. While my dad enjoyed working with numbers, what he really liked about being an accountant was the time he spent with clients, when he would catch up on their lives and maybe swap a few jokes. My dad had a vault-like mind for remembering jokes and that special gift of pacing that the best storytellers have.

I know many people who have told me that a meeting with him helped save their business – or in a few cases, prevented them from starting a business that was almost certain to fail. One friend who saved a bundle after he started preparing her tax return sent him a note on a little yellow post-it sticker. It said, “You’re a tax rock star.” He displayed that note on a kitchen cabinet for years.

My dad loved cars. When he was 19, he bought a 15-year-old Dodge for 100 bucks. Over the years, he owned more than 70 cars, including his favorites: a Porsche 911 and a 1974 XJ12L Jaguar. As much as he loved being an accountant, it was hard to beat his previous job with Transatlantic Motors, where he could buy a car, have fun with it for a few months, and then replace it with another lightly used trade-in that caught his eye.

A few years back when the Scion LeBox had just hit the streets, he took a Mercedes Benz logo and attached it to the front of his Scion, just to confuse people. He later used Velcro to attach Mercedes logos to the hub cabs of his Toyota RAV4, which would be his last car.

When we picked out a casket, I had figured it would be a traditional wood-grain style. But my brother Barry noticed a silver one that reminded him of a sports car – and we all knew that was the way to go. If you look closely, you’ll see that we glued one of those Mercedes hubcap logos to his casket. He would be happy to know that he’s going out in style.

When my dad was a young man, he was of the mindset that the father was the breadwinner and the mother took care of the kids. But over the years, he learned something – and Alice had a lot to do with this – that he didn’t learn from his own parents: how to openly display his love for his family. It didn’t matter whether you were a relation by blood, marriage or adoption. All of his children and their spouses and their children were treated the same.

A few weeks before last Christmas, Alice asked their children and grandchildren to write him a letter instead of sending a gift.

The cards and letters mentioned many things: births and birthdays, card games and Pinewood Derby cars, romping in the living room and Halloween costumes and dance recitals, phone calls that helped close the miles and included just the right words on a bad day, Red Sox games and Patriots games (it was a long wait but they both finally won the big game during his lifetime), burgers on the deck and Ed’s spaghetti, first communions and graduations and weddings, funerals and the healing moments that come after. They mentioned the thousands of photos he took, and how those photos will always remind us of accomplishments to look back on and loved ones to cherish.

I wrote about a summer afternoon six or eight years ago when I stopped by his house. He was cleaning the garage and had found a football. We stood in the driveway for half an hour, tossing the ball back and forth while we had a rambling conversation. I don’t remember what we said, but I’ll always remember how good it felt that day to be connected to him.

One of his sons mentioned my dad’s favorite bits of advice: “All the other drivers are crazy.” “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” “Don’t spend money to save on taxes.” All the kids knew the guiding principle of life under Dad’s roof: “My house, my rules.” And then there were the many nights when he was ready to go home from a family gathering. He would walk toward the door and  say in a loud, gruff voice … “goodnight, Alice.”

One granddaughter wrote, “Whenever I hear your name, a smile comes on my face.” Another granddaughter wrote, “You have showered us with love, compliments, encouragement and the faith that we have needed to succeed.” One grandson called him a perfect role model and said, “I hope to one day become as strong and caring a man as you.”

I’ll close with what Alice wrote on her card. “One of my most cherished memories of our life together is when you took my hand in yours, on our first date, and captured my heart forever. I love you, now and for eternity.”

Edward E. O’Neill – obituary

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Edward E. O’Neill passed away peacefully at home on March 28, surrounded by his family.

He was the son of the late Rose O’Dette O’Neill and the brother of the late Patricia O’Neill Armstrong.

He is survived by Alice E. Murphy O’Neill, his wife since 1982, and his children and grandchildren: Lorraine O’Neill (Michael O’Neill), Kim and John McDowell (Caroline, Katherine and Christopher), Ali and Jeff Tucker (Sam, Carly and Aubrey), William E. O’Neill (Eric and James Vierra), James O’Neill and Kim Kahan (Tyler), Barry and Nicole Sturgis (Matthew and Emily), Steven and Petra O’Neill (Owen and Samantha) and Robert O’Neill. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, other members of his extended family and many dear friends. He was predeceased by his first wife, Lorraine O’Neill.

Ed was born in Providence in 1931. One of his proudest achievements was earning the rank of Eagle Scout and he spent two happy summers on the staff of Camp Yawgoog in Rhode Island. He graduated from La Salle Academy in Providence in 1949.

He served for four years in the U.S. Air Force, including service at the radar station in Cho-do, Korea.

After his military service, he worked fulltime while he was attending Bryant College (class of 1957). He married Lorraine Connelly in 1956 and they moved to Cape Cod in 1958.

After working at Hyannis Marina and Transatlantic Motors, he joined a local accounting firm in 1969 and launched his own accounting practice in 1971. He joined the practice of Crabtree CPA & Associates in 2010 and continued working until last summer. Over the years, he helped hundreds of people prepare their tax forms and served as an advisor to many local business owners. Debbie Flora worked with him for over 35 years, and Ed’s family is grateful for her loyalty.

Ed was treasurer and president of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2578 in Hyannis. He also served for many years as a volunteer with the Cape Cod chapter of the Association of Retarded Citizens.

In the 1960s, he was active in the Cape Cod Sports Car Club, winning enough auto rallies to accumulate a boxful of trophies. A passionate car buff, he owned more than 70 cars (one at a time).

He developed his photography skills by taking pictures at his children’s sports events and school activities. As a professional photographer, he shot hundreds of weddings, engagement photos and high-school senior portraits. He loved to give people a flattering photo, whether it was taken in Alice’s classroom, at the Figawi Ball or at a casual gathering.

His family is grateful to Heidi Fratantonio and his other caregivers and the staff of Hope Health, Spaulding Rehab and Cape Cod Healthcare.

Visiting hours will be 4-7 p.m. Monday at Our Lady of Victory, 230 South Main St., Centerville. A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Victory. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent for the Edward and Lorraine O’Neill Memorial Scholarship Fund, payable to the ARC of Cape Cod, 171 Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601 or to the American Cancer Society, New England Division, 30 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01701.