It is with great sadness and much love that we say farewell to N. Lawrence “Larry” O’Neal of Lenox. He died peacefully in the wee hours of the morning Saturday, February 16, 2019 at Kimball Farms’ Sunset Nursing Home as the result of a long life, well lived and complications from Alzheimer’s Disease.
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Born August 15, 1926, in Middletown, NY, Larry was the son of Oscar James and Julia (Fetcho), O’Neal.
He loved sports, especially football, and played as a member of Middletown High School’s varsity football team for four years, two of them as captain. He graduated early from high school in 1945 in order to join the World War 2 effort, serving in the U.S. Airforce. At the end of the war he attended Columbia University where he majored in business and graduated in only three years.
He married the love of his life, Harriet (Tripp), O’Neal June 24, 1950. Theirs was a dynamic, interactive relationship (heavy euphemism usage here), which lasted more than 68 years. Together, with love, humor and a united front they raised their five children – beginning in Schenectady, NY, then moving to Pittsfield, MA in 1958 where they lived until 2005. They moved to Worthington with their daughter and granddaughter for five years before settling in at Kimball Farms in Lenox.
Larry loved his family, the great outdoors and working/playing with numbers. Family vacations were spent camping every summer at Kring’s Point on the Saint Lawrence River and Nickerson State Park in Brewster where he taught us to fish, swim, water-ski roast marshmallows and bake potatoes in a campfire. He could float in the water like there was no tomorrow. He was the Assistant Scoutmaster of his son’s Boy Scout troop. To give our mother a moment of peace and quiet in the winter he would take the whole pack of us sledding, skating, tobogganing and skiing. He loved to cross country ski and play tennis. He was an avid golfer and belonged to both the Berkshire Hills Country Club and the Worthington Golf Club.
He enjoyed playing games, particularly horseshoes, bocce ball and any kind of card game – especially poker and bridge. Larry was practically unbeatable at cards - he had the unfair advantage of remembering every card that was played.
His hobbies included gardening, and woodworking. He spent an inordinate amount of time over the years maintaining the homes he lived in: scraping, painting, papering and laying tile. The hours he spent in his workshop in the cellar when we were growing up might have been an attempt to find a few moments of solitude but they also resulted in many pieces of refinished furniture and even a beautifully restored wood stove.
Larry worked as Manager of Purchasing in the Ordinance Department of General Electric, retiring at age 60, after 35 years with the company.
He was always willing to lend a hand to his family, his church and the community at large, wielding a paint brush for many worthy projects and helping all of his five children pack and move many times over the years. He volunteered for Elder Services in Pittsfield helping seniors to do their taxes and running errands and grocery shopping for the homebound.
He is predeceased by his brother Jim O’Neal of Florida and his grandson Shane Fleming of Beverly, MA.
Larry was smart, honest, kind, sweet, direct and fun-loving. He worked hard and always acted in a way he believed to be right. He had unlimited patience. He will be sorely missed by his wife Harriet of Lenox, his four daughters: Gail Fleming, her husband Dan Fleming and their children Zack and Carley of Beverly; Peggy O’Neal of Worthington and her children Nathan Lake of Austin, TX, Daniel Lake of Falmouth, MA and Merle O’Neal of NYC; Lori O’Neal of Hinsdale and her children Mia Gordan of Dalton, Dominic Cimini and Haley Cimini both of Pittsfield and Belle Hauge of Hinsdale; Mary O’Neal and her husband Patrick O’Neil of New Lebanon, NY and their sons Henry O’Neal of Lake Park, FL and Harley O’Neil of Lebanon Springs, NY; and his son: Daniel O’Neal of Lenoxdale and his sons Nathaniel O’Neal of Brandon Florida, Everett O’Neal of Asbury, NJ and Dalton O’Neal of Pittsfield, MA. Larry also leaves behind seven great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Special thanks to the staff at Kimball Farms Life Enrichment Program (LEP) and the Sunset Nursing Home for their care and support during Larry’s last few months and to HospiceCare in the Berkshires for the comfort they provided to Larry and his family in his final days.
Services are private. Memorial contributions may be made in Larry’s name to HospiceCare in the Berkshires, in care of Dery Funeral Home, 54 Bradford Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201.