On Wednesday, March 10, 2021, Paula Young O'Neil, loving mother of four, grandmother of six, and great-grandmother of three, passed away peacefully, beautifully at age 91.
Paula was born on July 31, 1929 in Wadsworth Ohio to Wayne and Edith Young. She had one brother, Wayne S. Young. Paula moved to Arizona in 1953 where she met her first husband, John Morton Carder. Paula moved with John to Albuquerque in 1954 where they had three children, John, Sally, Mary.
After losing her first husband in an auto accident in 1958, Paula moved with her three children, ages 3, 2 and 6 months back to Ohio, and then on to Anchorage that summer. After surviving an Alaskan winter on whale blubber and moose burger, Paula - forever following the sun in pursuit of an unfettered frontier life - returned to New Mexico with her three children, where she enrolled at the University of New Mexico to complete her Bachelor's degree.
While attending UNM, Paula met her second husband, Brian O'Neil, a Professor of Philosophy at UNM, and together had Paula's fourth child, Michael O'Neil.
Paula, Brian, and Michael later moved near Golden, NM on the back side of the Sandia Mountains atop Heartbreak Hill to establish a subsistence homestead, later known as Praise the Lord Ranch, reflecting Paula's deep faith and trust in God - a faith Paula would lean on heavily over the next decade as she organized and successfully led her neighborhood against five separate mining companies to prevent strip mining of her beloved mountains.
After losing Brian to cancer in 1986, Paula served as a missionary with Open Doors, smuggling Bibles into China. Paula then moved to Nederland, CO to be closer to her son, John, and his wife Susan; and after surviving her own bout with cancer in 2012, moved to Durango, CO to be closer to her two daughters, Mary and Sally.
Upon moving to Durango, Paula adopted her new best friend, Daisy, on Christmas eve from the La Plata Co Humane Society. They were inseparable and were often spotted walking each other at Haviland Lake, Junction Creek, and Falls Creek.
Paula was preceded in death by her brother, Wayne S. Young, her grandson, Kurt R. Dalen, her nieces Amy Young and Beth Baier, and her nephew Mark Young. Paula is survived by her children John Carder, Sally Olsen, Mary Thomas, and Michael O'Neil; grandchildren Lee Dalen, Cuatro Kruse, Grace Kruse, Rylie O'Neil, and Connor O'Neil; great-grandchildren Kurt G. Dalen, Dane Dalen, and Robert Dean; and nieces Catherine Burnett, Meg Huff and Michelle Gild and nephew Kurt Young.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to La Plata County Humane Society and Hospice of Mercy Durango.
Published in Pine River Times on Apr. 1, 2021.