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WAYNE O'NEIL


1931 - 2020
WAYNE O'NEIL Obituary
O'NEIL, Wayne Linguist and Educator Died March 22, 2020 at the age of 88 at his home in Somerville, MA. The cause of death was cancer. Wayne was Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked since 1968. He served as head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy from 1989 to 1997. Prior to MIT, Wayne taught at Harvard University, the University of Oregon, and Duke University. Of his long career at MIT, he would remark with a bemused smile, "I came as a visitor to spend a year—and I never left!" Wayne's work centered on the role of linguistics in the school curriculum and on second-language acquisition, both the theory and relevance of the latter to bilingual education and to the revitalization of indigenous languages. He lectured at colleges and universities around the world and he also offered workshops for teachers in Nicaragua's bilingual-intercultural education program as well as courses for Native American teachers at the American Indian Language Development Institute and the Navajo Language Academy. For his achievements and contributions to linguistics, Wayne was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013. Wayne was born on December 22, 1931 in Kenosha, WI to Kathryn (Obermeyer) and Leslie O'Neil. He attended the University of Wisconsin for his undergraduate and graduate education, earning his Ph.D. in 1960, after a stint with the US Army in Germany. He is survived by his wife (Amy) Maya Honda, his oldest brother Gerald (Jerry) O'Neil of Sterling Heights, MI, his children from his first marriage to Donna (Carr) O'Neil and their spouses, Scott O'Neil and Neil Kraft of East Hampton, NY, Patrick O'Neil and Jennifer Courtney of Glendale, CA, and Elizabeth O'Neil and Frank Henderson of Emeryville, CA, as well as his grandchildren, Dylan Smith and husband Zach, Marley Kraft, and Morrison Kraft, and his great-grandson Hendrix Smith. A celebration of Wayne's life is planned for after the COVID-19 crisis passes. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Friends Service Committee, afsc.org a peace and social justice organization that Wayne long supported.

View the online memorial for Wayne O'NEIL
Published in The Boston Globe on Mar. 29, 2020
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