Obituaries » James L. O'Neill
February 5, 1931 - July 2, 2018
James L. O’Neill, 87, passed away at home, the morning of Monday, July 2, 2018, in the company of his cherished daughter, Madelon “Mimi” Maley. Jim’s loving wife of 60 years, Madelon (Cooney) O’Neill, passed away in January, 2016. Sons James A. (Christine) and Michael (Merlene) O’Neill survive, as do grandchildren Laura Powell (fiancé Tony Fernandez), Shannon (Andy) Wannemacher and identical twins: Brendan and Kevan O’Neill.
Jim was born February 5, 1931, in Toledo, Ohio, oldest son of Eugene and Helen (Szymanski) O’Neill, who along with brothers Thomas (Carol) and Robert O’Neill, have also preceded him in death.
A 1949 graduate of St. Rose High School, Jim’s childhood interest in model airplanes resulted in service, as a mechanic, in the U.S. Air Force. Stationed in Florida and California, Jim became a crew chief working on the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star (T-Bird) Jet Trainer. As a civilian, Jim built a sleek, gold-speckled, tunnel-hull hydroplane in his garage, but abandoned efforts at a home-made gyrocopter. Eventually, Jim obtained a private pilot’s license, enjoying regional jaunts with courageous family and friends.
Jim relished the individual sports of scuba diving, water-skiing, boating and weight-lifting. In the early 1950s, Jim placed first runner-up in his weight class, for two consecutive years, at Ohio’s AAU weight lifting competition. Performance pictures appeared in muscle magazines of the period. Jim donated his free weights to the Lima Central Catholic High School weight-lifting room, that bears his name. No stranger to the dance floor of the Big Band Era, Jim was also an instructor for Lima’s Arthur Murray Studio.
Jim was employed as a Captain of the Lima Fire Department for 30 years. Besides working a second, full-time job as a house painter, Jim indulged his passion for reading, particularly the journals of Scientific American and Psychology Today. Also, Jim perused The Great Books, while practically memorizing his favorite, Bernard Lonergan’s “Insight.”
Undoubtably, Jim’s best years were spent in retirement, with wife Madelon, at their home on Pine Island, Florida. Near the end, Jim expressed a sense of thankfulness, “for my chance to experience, this incomprehensible mystery of life.”
We wish to send a special “thank you” to Renee, Beth, Cheyenne and Karyn, for your gracious care, rendered to our father. There will be a private funeral and graveside service, to be held at Gethsemani Cemetery. Charitable contributions may be made to the St. Rose Catholic School Endowment Fund, 222 S. West Street, Lima, OH 45801.