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Mildred E. O’Neal

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MANCHESTER -- Mildred E. O’Neal, 96, of Manchester, died peacefully at the Equinox Terrace on June 26, 2007. Mildred was born in 1910 in Beverly, Mass., to Joseph and Carrie (Culver) O’Neal. Her pre-school education was very unusual; with both her parents being deaf she learned the sign language before she could talk and her first real experience in the spoken language came when she went to kindergarten.

Mildred earned her bachelor’s degree at Brown University. Her training in the instruction of the deaf was received at the renowned Clark School. Her diploma from that school was signed by Grace Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge. She came to Vermont with her mother in 1941 to live at the family farm in East Dorset. Her specialized teaching of lip reading to the deaf took her to a number of different localities.

She taught for several years at the Clark School for the Deaf in Northampton, Mass. A high point in her career was the seven year period when she was the head mistress of the Austine School for the Deaf in Brattleboro. She had also taught at the Rochester School for the Deaf. She also had interpreted once for Helen Keller. In 1950, Mildred returned to the family homestead; that year the new Manchester Elementary School opened and she started teaching third grade there. Mildred retired from teaching in 1976.

Mildred was a member of numerous local organizations. She was very interested in history and all that went on around her. She also enjoyed rug hooking and knitting. She leaves a wide circle of devoted friends to carry on her memory.

A memorial service will be held in August at the United Church of Dorset-East Rupert. A date will be announced. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Clark School for the Deaf or to Brown University in care of Brewster Funeral Service PO Box 885 Manchester, VT 05255.
Published in Bennington Banner on June 28, 2007
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