Catherine L. O'neill, Educator

April 18, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Catherine L. "Kay" O'Neill, a retired parochial school educator and a former Northwood resident, died April 10 of cancer at the Brightwood Center in Lutherville. She was 84.

Catherine Loftus, the daughter of Irish immigrants, was born in Philadelphia, the second of seven children.

She was a 1942 graduate of Little Flower High School in Philadelphia and attended St. Joseph's College.

During World War II while working as a clerk at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, she met her future husband, William Francis O'Neill, Jr., a career naval officer, whom she married in 1945.

Mrs. O'Neill raised her family at naval installations where her husband was serving in San Diego, Portland, Ore., Philadelphia, Key West, Fla., Hawaii and Madrid, Spain.

She had taught for seven years part time, then full time, at St. Francis of Assisi Parochial School in Philadelphia.

The family settled in Northwood in 1972, after her husband retired from the Navy and took a job with Aramark, working in food service at Good Samaritan Hospital. He died in 1992.

Mrs. O'Neill taught at St. Matthew's Parochial School and the Cathedral School before retiring in 1990.

"She was a quiet woman with a great sense of humor, incredible tolerance and patience. Look, she raised five kids and taught seventh- and eighth-graders," said her daughter, Mary Anne Wetzel, an elementary school principal who lives in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

Mrs. O'Neill enjoyed vacationing in North Wildwood, N.J., and had traveled to her family's ancestral home in Ireland.

Since 2002, Mrs. O'Neill had lived in Lutherville.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. June 9 at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5300 N. Charles St.

Also surviving are four sons, Peter J. O'Neill of Lutherville, Michael F. O'Neill of Lafayette, Calif., William F. O'Neill III of Black Forest, Colo., and John A. O'Neill of Denver; two brothers, Peter Loftus of Levittown, Pa., and John Loftus of Maple Glen, Pa.; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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