Monday, June 28th, the soul of David John O’Neill shuffled off his mortal coil to join the souls of loved ones, family, and friends who have predeceased him and oh, what a hooley it must have been when he arrived!
Originally from the borough of Manhattan, David grew up in the shadow of the Polo Grounds and across the river from hallowed Yankee Stadium. A life-long Yankee fan, David moved to Brooklyn in the early 1940s along with his family. There, surrounded by Dodger fans, David became the self-pronounced “Bravest Boy in Brooklyn” by holding steadfast in his allegiance to the Bronx Bombers despite being completely outnumbered in Brooklyn.
A graduate of the Class of 1949 from LaSalle Academy, the Brothers of the Christian Schools made a life-long impression on him and he would proudly refer to himself as a “Brother’s boy” 70 years after graduating. There was always a special gleam in his eye as he shared LaSalle stories. A few were about surviving the heavy-handed approach of one Brother or another. Others recounted riotous school river cruises where the piano, and often the piano player, ended up overboard. There may have been embellishments with each telling but the pride he felt for his association with LaSalle Academy and the LaSallian Christian Brothers never faded.
Shortly after graduating, the Korean War broke out and David, ignoring the soldiers’ admonition against ever volunteering for anything, became a three time volunteer. Rather than wait to be drafted, he decided to select a branch for himself (the US Army). Because he enlisted, David was able to choose a specialty and he opted to serve as a medic. Then, he heard they needed medics on the battlefield in Korea so he volunteered to leave his unit in Ft Rucker, AL and go to war. There’s a reason soldiers say don’t volunteer and David had tempted fate three times. The Army rewarded such verve by changing course upon his arrival in Korea and designating him an infantryman on the spot. “We needed medics six months ago…” he was told. He earned the stripes of a staff sergeant as well as his Combat Infantryman’s Badge in the fighting on Old Baldy with the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
After his enlistment ended, David spent time working on the loading docks and delivery trucks of Ruppert’s Knickerbocker Brewery in NYC with his father, William. He also attended Niagara University as a History major expecting to become a teacher but his studies were interrupted by the passing of his father. When David returned home to Brooklyn, began working in Manhattan while also attending night school at, and eventually graduating from, St. John’s University.
His life, at that time, was not all work and night school. David was a fine dancer whose dancefloor clearing specialty was The Peabody. He was a connoisseur of dry martinis and an upstanding member of the Breezy Point Beach Club. It was at this point he met the love of his life, Mary McGuigan – a Brooklyn kid who, while interested, told him “I’m in the book.” when he asked for her number. Their marriage would last 60 years until his passing.
David later took a position in the NYC offices of American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) – a precious metals mining company whose headquarters were in NYC. He spent over 35 years with ASARCO eventually rising to be Office Manager of the Sales Department. NYC in the 1970s was a difficult place to be and so he and Mary moved the family to Aberdeen, NJ while he commuted daily into the city. When he retired in the early 1990s he threw himself into a variety of interests and projects including exercising, collecting toy soldiers, local Republican politics, and other volunteer civic duties.
Upon the arrival of the first of their two cherished grandsons, David and Mary moved to Oak Point in Middleboro, MA to be closer to their family. David continued his civic volunteerism and became known as the “flag man” at Oak Point. For two years David would walk from his house in the early morning hours to the flagpole at the entrance to the community to raise the Stars and Stripes for the day. In accordance with the US Flag Code, he would return before dusk each day to lower Old Glory. David made sure the flag flew at half staff on the day of every Oak Point veteran’s funeral. After two years the flag was illuminated so it could be flown around the clock. David continued his duties ensuring the colors’ appropriate placement marking the day of any resident veteran’s final services. He did this in all conditions, without fail, for 15 years only surrendering the duty when he was well into his 80s and working with two replaced knees.
While David’s soul has left us, his spirit of, and dedication to, a life in service to others remains for us to follow, foster, and pass along to those who will follow us. He is survived by his beloved wife Mary, his son William and daughter-in-law Tina, his grandsons Aidan and Liam, and his sister-in-law Dr. Jacqueline Cuffe O’Neill. He is predeceased by his parents William and Julia O’Neill (with child), his stepmother Mary G. O’Neill, his brothers William and John, and his sisters Eleanor and Margaret.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday (July 2, 2021) at 10 AM in Sacred Heart Church, 340 Center Street, Middleboro, MA 02346.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend.
Interment will follow in Saint Mary Cemetery.
Those attending the Mass or Interment are invited by the family to a luncheon repast at the Oak Point Clubhouse at 12 noon. We request you park in the Ballroom parking lot to the left of the Clubhouse building.
There are no calling hours.
Please omit flowers. In keeping with his philanthropic spirit, memorial gifts, in lieu of flowers, in David’s name to any of the following organizations would be greatly appreciated:
Holy Angels, 6600 Wilkinson Blvd, PO Box 710, Belmont, NC 28012-0710
National Museum of the United States Army
PO Box 96281
Washington, DC 20090-6281
Graymoor Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement
ATTN: Development Office
41 Old Highland Turnpike
Garrison, NY 10524
Brothers of the Christian Schools
District of Eastern North America
PO Box 238
Lincroft, NJ 07738-0238
Www.fscdena.org (for retired and infirm Brothers)
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