Brian G. O'Neill
Brian Gerard O'Neill died peacefully after a courageous battle with cancer in the early morning of July 20, 2021 at the age of 56.
Brian was a proud father and husband, an exceptional coach and an accomplished leader. Born in Brooklyn, NY on March 6, 1965, he moved to New Mexico with his family at age seven. Brian attended Cibola High School where he also played basketball. Brian graduated from Eastern New Mexico University and served as President of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He later taught and coached the Cibola boys' basketball team from 1992-98, averaging 20 wins a season and taking the Cougars to the State Tournament on two occasions. In 1993, Brian was named the New Mexico Coach of the Year. He was also a teacher and coach at La Cueva High School.
In 1998, he accepted a position on the UNM Lobos Men's Basketball staff under Coach Dave Bliss for two seasons, earning berths in the NCAA Tournament both years. He then joined Bliss for four more seasons at Baylor before coming back home to Albuquerque in 2003. Most recently, Brian owned and operated Elevate Your Game (EYG) skill development program and was an outstanding analyst for ESPN 101.7 The TEAM play-by-play broadcasts.
Once Brian returned to NM, he had an illustrious career serving the State of NM as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Sports Authority under Governor Bill Richardson, and the Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department and the Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the Children, Youth and Families Department under Governor Susana Martinez. Brian brought his incredible coaching and leadership skills to every position he held, elevating those around him and serving as a mentor and example of character, humility and empathy.
Brian is preceded in death by his parents Joseph and Helen O'Neill. He is survived by his wife, Alma Marrufo-O'Neill, and his children Alexis (Kevin Savela) and Nathan; his brother, Joe O'Neill and sister, Kathy Westby; and his nephews Robbie and Dustin Westby and their families. He is loved and remembered by his wonderful in-laws, the Marrufos; many beloved friends; and a sporting community that extends around the country.
Brian's legacy will always live on through those he mentored and those who knew and loved him. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Cibola Sports Hall of Fame, which can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/oneill-to-honor-cibola-athletic-hall-of-fame
. A rosary is planned at 10:00 a.m. followed by a funeral mass at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church, 5712 Paradise Blvd NW.
Published by Albuquerque Journal on Jul. 25, 2021.