Obituary: Bob O’Neil
Published in the Berkshire Eagle, July 20, 2012
Robert “Bob” McClean O’Neil 1947-2012 PITTSFIELD Robert “Bob” McClean O’Neil, age 64, of 29 Greenway Street, Pittsfield, peacefully passed away July 17, 2012 at home with his loving family by his side. Bob bravely battled ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease since May of 2011.
Bob was born December 2, 1947, at St. Luke’s Hospital in Pittsfield to the late Alice Virginia Day and the late John Joseph O’Neil, Sr. Bob attended primary school at Notre Dame and graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in 1966. In 1988, he graduated with an Associates Degree from Berkshire Community College and then earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English and History from Williams College in 1990. In 1997, Bob received his Master’s Degree in Human Service Administration from Antioch New England Graduate School. Prior to returning to college, Mr. O’Neil held various positions initially in Pittsfield and later in New Orleans and Florida, Upon graduation from high school, Bob was employed with General Electric in Pittsfield, as well as, worked as a bartender at Blantyre in Lenox.
At this time in his young life, his desire to travel and see the world led him to work initially in the French Quarter of New Orleans and later in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he met his beloved wife, Betty Jean Broz, and married her on April 5, 1986. During these years, he visited Canada and Mexico many times and backpacked throughout twenty-one European countries, as well as traveled extensively in the United States, including Alaska. One of his favorites spots was Ireland, where he visited three times. His love of travel extended throughout his adult life and he traveled to Asia and visited Taiwan, Korea and Japan. His most recent trip to Paris, France, which he described “as the trip of his life” in October 2011, was shared with his family. Upon their return to Pittsfield from Florida, Bob began his work in service to others as a helping professional and an educator. He was a part-time correctional officer at the Berkshire County House of Corrections for a period and later employed by Hillcrest Educational Center. Mr. O’Neil began working for the Pittsfield Public Schools in 1996, initially as an Attendance Coordinator at Taconic High School and then, later, as a high school teacher at both PHS and THS. He most recently was a Social Studies teacher at Taconic High School. /
Bob was a passionate fan of the game of basketball; some have called him a “basketball junkie.” He was an avid player, coach and referree for decades. Bob coached and played with men and women of all ages and experience levels. Most recently he played in the Senior Basketball Olympics for players 50 years and over. His teams won many senior Massachusetts state basketball championships with the Berkshire Black Bears and the Berkshire Legends. He played in three Senior National Tournaments across the United States. He was a high school and college basketball official. Bob was an IAABO Board #25 basketball official from 1987-1996 and was recently recognized by the IAABO Board #25 for his dedication to the game of basketball.
Bob began his coaching career as the head boys’ coach at Sacred Heart School in Lake Worth, Florida from 1976-1986. He was the Assistant Coach for the men’s team at Berkshire Community College from 1986-1988 and next served as the Assistant Coach for the Williams College men’s team. He then turned to coaching young women. Coach O’Neil has coached the girls teams at both Pittsfield and Taconic High Schools. He joined the Lady General’s coaching staff in 1994 and served as the PHS Head Coach from 1995-2005 where he led the girls to winning four Berkshire County Titles, four Western Massachusetts Titles, three Central Massachusetts Titles and three appearances in the Division I state finals. Between 2005-11, Coach O’Neil became the Head Coach at Taconic High School and led the Lady Braves to a Berkshire County win and several City Championships. In addition to his commitment to the City’s high schools, Coach O’Neil, for many years, coached the Berkshire Huskies AAU girls’ team. Bob was also a frequent mentor to many very young players, serving as both a referee and a coach at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club Youth Program and running skill development clinics at both the CYC and the Club. Most rewarding for him was his fortune in being able to coach his daughter, Angela, since she was six years old.
Bob was dedicated to teaching sportsmanship and positive character, along with competent basketball skills. Coach O’Neil received several coaching awards that he viewed as proud accomplishments. He was twice named MIAA Western MA Division I Girls’ Basketball Coach of the the Year and won the WBEC Female Coach of the Year Award. He was recently honored by the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the United States Congress for his contributions to the youth of Berkshire County. Bob was dedicated to service to the youth of this community and was also honored by receiving a Certificate of Recognition by the City of Pittsfield and was given a gold key to the City which he proudly displayed in his home. Bob also held many important interests outside of basketball. He also loved movies, theater and musical concerts.
One point of great pleasure for Bob was that he watched all of the American Film Institutes top one-hundred movies. But his greatest joy was spending time with his family and friends talking and laughing. Bob was known for always seeing the positive aspects of life.
Mr. O’Neil is survived by his loving wife, Betty Jean Broz O’Neil, with whom he was married for twenty-six years and who was by his side throughout the joyous times in their lives and showed selfless dedication in the face of his unrelenting illness. He also is survived by his daughter, Miss Angela Jean O’Neil, residing at home to whom he was most dedicated; his devoted twin-sister Rosanna Smith of Dalton, with whom he held an especially close bond; his devoted brother, John and Margaret O’Neil of Pittsfield; his brother Patrick and Mary O’Neil of Pittsfield; a sister Sharon Mazza of Pittsfield and a brother Arthur Winters of Lanesboro. Bob is also survived by his in-laws, John and Lisa Broz of Lake Clarke Shores, Fla.; Jerry Broz of Tinton Falls, N.J.; Jeffrey and Andrea Broz of Tampa, Fla.; Micki and Jay Cohen of Boca Raton, Fla.; Joseph Broz of Lake Worth, Fla.; and Jennifer Fairbanks of Lake Worth, Fla. In addition, Bob leaves twenty-six nieces and nephews and thirteen great-nieces and great-nephews. Bob also leaves his loyal canine companion, Lita. Besides his mother and father, he was pre-deceased by his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Jean and John Broz, and by his brother-in-law, Bill Smith.
The family would also like to express their sincere appreciation to Compassionate Care ALS for the wonderful care they provided to Bob. FUNERAL NOTICE: Funeral Services for Robert McClean O’Neil will be held on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 9 a.m. at St. Mark’s Church with a Liturgy of Christian Burial celebrated by Rev. John C. Salatino, Pastor. Calling hours will be Sunday, July 22 from 4 to 7 p.m., at DERY FUNERAL HOME. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Mr. O’Neil may be made to Compassionate Care ALS in care of the funeral home, 54 Bradford Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201.