Kenneth Donal O'Neil
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June 24, 1925 - January 27, 2013
Kenneth Donal O'Neil, Age 87 of Meridian, Idaho passed away January 27, 2013 at home. Ken was born in Salt Lake City on June 24, 1925 to Charles P. and Annie Louisa (Hobson) O'Neil. He learned the principles of hard work and diligence on a small family farm while growing up in Kaysville, Utah with two older sisters and an older brother.
As a child, people told him he was too pretty to be a boy and should have been a girl. This annoyed him. One day he accidently ran into a barb wire fence cutting his forehead. He was pleased, stating emphatically, "Now people won't think I'm too pretty to be a boy!"
Growing up in the depression, the family farm provided food, but not a lot of cash. Every family member looked for ways to obtain cash income. Ken helped by selling Sunday newspapers. His family would put him on a horse with copies of the Sunday edition of the Salt Lake Tribune. He would then ride the horse through the hills above Kaysville, calling out "Newspaper!" Homeowners, upon hearing his call, would come out and purchase them. At the start, he was too small to get on the horse by himself and quickly learned to stay on. Otherwise, he would have to walk all the way home. Eventually he obtained his own daily Tribune route and, at age14, was one of 25 young Tribune carriers from throughout Utah rewarded for their service, work and conduct with an all expense seven day trip to the 1939 World's Fair in San Francisco. Continuing to work and save, he later purchased a 1936 Chevy; becoming one of the few seniors in high school with a car.
He graduated from Davis High School in May 1943. World War II was underway and he joined the Navy the day before his 18th birthday. He had hoped to be a pilot, but was disqualified when the Navy discovered he was color blind. He completed basic training at the Farragut Naval Station in Idaho on August 17, 1943 and then trained as a Navy Radioman.
After training, he was assigned to a Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO) composed of Army, Navy and Air Corps personnel responsible for linking communications for land sea and air elements during amphibious assaults. He saw combat at Peleliu aboard the USS Mount McKinley and at Okinawa aboard the USS Ancon where the crew endured three weeks of Japanese air raids and kamikaze attacks; once standing at general quarters for fourteen out of eighteen hours.
After the war, Ken returned to Kaysville, Utah and worked at Hill Field painting aircraft. As a veteran, he received special status in applying to purchase a civilian automobile. Under the program, he didn't have a choice in make or model of car which were shipped to dealers at random. He was pleasantly surprised when his red convertible arrived. This helped catch the eye of his future bride, Vivian Holley who he met on a blind date arranged by a friend. They were married on May 13, 1951. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake City Temple. They began married life in Kaysville, Utah with Ken continuing to work at Hill Field and Vivian working at Walker Bank.
To increase their income, Ken did house painting on the side. He would later recount the kindness and support of the Hod Sanders family in providing opportunities for work. Ken changed jobs in1953 going to work for the Holley Brokerage Company as their Boise, Idaho sales representative; learning the wholesale/retail food business. In 1957 he went to work for Dependable Wholesale, as a food buyer. When Dependable Wholesale merged with Associated Food Stores in 1960, Ken was transferred to Pocatello, Idaho as the assistant division manager and became the Pocatello Division Manager in 1970. In 1985 he was transferred to be the Billings Division Manager and retired from Associated in 1987. Ken & Vivian then moved to Meridian, Idaho to be close to family. In retirement, he enjoyed golfing, travel, grandchildren, and gardening.
He was active in the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce, serving as Chairman of the Congressional Action Committee and later as a Director of the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce from 1978 to 1979. Ken was active in the Pocatello Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and was a lifelong member of the LDS Church; serving in teaching and priesthood callings.
Ken was always supportive of his children's ambitions and goals. He challenged them to think for themselves, work hard and be diligent. He encouraged the people he worked with to do and be their best; seeing talent in others they didn't always see in themselves. He believed people would rise to their best selves when given opportunity, encouragement, and when trusted to make the best decisions. He was quietly generous.
He is survived by his wife, Vivian, daughter Holly (Joseph Andrus), sons Kelly (Dana) and Riley, 20 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Kathleen (Blamires), brother Brian and sister Dorothy (Burton).
A viewing will be held at Summers Funeral Home 3929 Ustick Road, Meridian, Idaho at 9:30 AM Monday February 4, 2013 with services following at 11:00AM. Interment at Idaho Veterans Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the National Foundation For Autism Research (www.nfar.org ), the Epilepsy Association of Utah (www.epilepsyut.org) or
"Death is not extinguishing the light;
It is putting out the lamp because dawn has come" (Tagore)
Published in Idaho State Journal on Feb. 1, 2013