Cover photo for Dorothy "Becky" O'Neill's Obituary
Dorothy "Becky" O'Neill Profile Photo

Dorothy "Becky" O'Neill

April 4, 1925 — April 2, 2023

Dorothy "Becky" O'Neill

With great sadness and bittersweet gratitude, the O’Neill children announce the death of our brave, caring, adventurous, irreplicable and unimaginably generous mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend, Dorothy Lee Breckenridge O’Neill. Dorothy, long nicknamed and answering to “Becky”, was born in Granite City, Illinois, on April 4, 1925. She is descended from two prominent and ancient American pioneer families, Breckenridge and Shaw, with Ulster-Irish origins. She was educated in Granite City public schools, attended the University of Illinois at Urbana as a physical education major, and subsequently transferred to nurses training at St. John’s Hospital in St. Louis (now Mercy Hospital). In the spring of 1945, Becky met her true love and lifetime companion, a dashing Army Air Corps pilot, war hero, and fighter ace, Lawrence (Larry) O’Neill. They were married after a whirlwind wartime romance in June of 1945. She remained his loving wife, constant companion, friend, advisor, and confidant until his death in 2007. She and Larry, who post-war switched branches to the U.S. Navy, embarked on a life of adventure, excitement, love, compassion, hopefulness, and heartbreak. Over the next 18 years, she birthed six children, buried four, and adopted three. This cohesive little family (some might compare it to a circus) traveled the world, from California and Hawaii and the Pacific islands to various stateside naval bases, Malta, Italy, and the Mediterranean, by sea on naval ships and luxury liners, by rail and automobile and air, dwelling in an endless succession of tents, Quonset huts, hotels, rental houses, naval housing, and small Maltese palaces. Becky handled all with a good sense of humor, a sharp wit (and sometimes a sharp tongue), a ready laugh and an elegant demeanor. Her life was frequently exciting, very, very often challenging, and occasionally heartbreaking, but never dull.

Becky fully committed herself to maintaining a sense of normalcy, protection and care for her children and her husband, prioritizing their needs well above her own, providing her children and grandchildren with love, comfort, hospitality, humor, sensibility and stability. Wherever she went she spread love, compassion and support for her family and friends, and her favorite charities, in particular Navy Relief, St. Vincent DePaul. She also nurtured a vast number of lifelong friends around the world. Throughout all she remained a communicant in her adopted Roman Catholic faith, strongly believing in the power of God and Christ to salve and save even the most wretched. She maintained a firm and unwavering conviction of her place in the body of the Church and anticipation of her eventual entry into the presence of her God. In their later years, Becky and Larry settled St. Louis and then in Terre du Lac in the Ozarks, near Bonne Terre, Missouri. There Becky honed her love for golf, gardening, tennis, swimming, bridge, cats, songbirds and any stray wild thing that crossed her path. She also became the nucleus of groups of dear friends, the “Golden Girls”, and the “Margarita Girls” and a stalwart of the Catholic parish of St. Joseph. She played golf well into her late 80s, drove her car until the past year, savored her martinis (stirred not shaken), and until recently traveled the country and the world to visit her far-flung family. She doted on her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in recent years and reveled in their growth and success. She loved them all most dearly.

Becky leaves five living children, Lawrence Daniel (Marnie), of New York City; Christopher John (Sharon), of St Louis; Timothy Gerard (Cathy) of Albuquerque; Mary Catherine (Manestar) (Robert), of Tarpon Springs, Florida; and Elizabeth Ann (Orvos) (Adam) of San Francisco; ten Grandchildren, Jaishri Blakeley of Baltimore; Tara O’Neill of Honolulu; Lorcan O’Neill of Dublin, Ireland; Oisin O’Neill of New York; Moirin O’Neill of Dublin, Ireland; Alexander Orvos of Charlotte, North Carolina; MacKenzie Orvos of Dallas; Michael O’Neill of St. Louis; John O’Neill of Chicago; and Laura Miano of St. Louis; five great-grandchildren, Roan and Asher Blakeley of Baltimore; Melanie, Allison and Sebastian Miano of St. Louis and countless friends and acquaintances. She was predeceased by her Husband of 62 years, Commander Lawrence F. O’Neill, her brother John Preston Breckenridge, her Father Elzie Harder Breckenridge, her mother Euretta Breckenridge (Shaw), her daughter-in-law Feena Mclaverty O’Neill and her infant children Michael, Teressa, Peter and Margaret. The family extends their deepest gratitude and respect to the exceptionally skilled and compassionate team of BJC Hospice and all the nurses’ Doctors, and ancillary staff at Parkland Health Center Bonne Terre, where she had volunteered for 18 years. They loved and cared for Becky and all of us like family.

Becky’s soul is now in the hands of God, and she is rejoined in a new adventure with Larry. Her mortal remains shall be available for viewing at the Boyer Funeral Home, in Bonne Terre, Missouri between 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Tuesday evening April 4, 2023 (which would have been her 98th Birthday), followed by a mass of resurrection at St. Joseph’s church, Bonne Terre at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, morning April 5, 2023. Burial will be at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at 1:15 PM. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to BJC Hospice in the name of Dorothy O’Neill at 757 Weber Road Farmington, Missouri 63640 phone: 573-760-8550 toll-free: 888.633.9395 or https://www.parklandhealthcenter.org/About-Us/Parkland-Health-Center-Foundation/Online-Donation.

 

 

 

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Past Services

Visitation

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

4:00pm - 7:00 am (Central time)

Boyer Funeral Home Bonne Terre

313 Benham Street, Bonne Terre, MO 63628

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Funeral Service

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Graveside Service

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

1:15pm - 1:45 am (Central time)

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

2900 Sheridan Road, St. Louis, MO 63125

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