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In Memoriam
John Joseph "Jack" O'Neill

The following memorial tribute to Jack O’Neill was presented by Stephen Goodwin, associate professor, College of Health Sciences, at the Semiannual General Faculty Meeting on April 7, 2008.

Jack O’Neill died on Feb. 14, 2008. Jack is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, Eileen (Lewis) O'Neill, and three daughters, Erin, Kathleen, and Colleen and her husband, Andrew Van Dyke, and their three children, Drew, Delaney, and Emma, as well as by his mother and five brothers and sisters.

Jack will be remembered by many for being a wonderful father and grandfather, friend, mentor and teammate. A talented and accomplished athlete, he was the starting shortstop for the first team from Delaware to make it to Williamsport for the Little League World Series. He was an All-State quarterback in high school and he ran a 10-second 100-yard dash. He continued his athletic career in college, first at Eastern Kentucky, then here at the University of Delaware. After graduating from UD in 1969, he was hired as a faculty member in the Department of Physical Education. During his 39 years at the University of Delaware, he served as the first director of recreation and coordinator of fitness management programs. Jack also co-founded the Ice Skating Science Development Program, which is arguably the top ice skating development program in the world. He was also very active in his professional organizations holding leadership offices in the state and region. His insight and opinions were sought by many as is evidenced by his being a member of the Delaware Olympic Committee and the Delaware Title IX Advisory Board.

Jack will be missed greatly by his students, colleagues and many friends. He was known for regaling friends, and anyone who would listen for that matter, with stories of his high school days at Salesianum, known as Sallies. One of his favorites was when he and some friends sat in the back row of the auditorium for an assembly. They had decided when the priest said a specific word they would release marbles from their pockets. So as the marbles were clanging down the auditorium floor and dropping into the orchestra pit, the priest yelled, “O’Neill, get up here!!” So out of a filled auditorium, he was singled out. He walked up and took his punishment in front of the entire school--with a smile on his face. This story illustrates the sometimes mischievous, but also likable part of who he was. He was always so full of life, upbeat, and positive that he never gave up. I had a chance to talk to him the last day he was able to speak. He was in a great deal of pain and when I walked into his room the first thing he did was apologize for “not being more lively.” This is who Jack was. He was sorry he could not give me the attention and energy he felt I deserved--he was still worried about others more than himself.

Professionally, Jack was an inspiration for many. He motivated people to be the best they could be. He believed in everyone’s ability to be successful. For example, early in Jack’s career, there was a young man working in the laundry area of Carpenter Sports Building. One day, he mentioned that he would like to try something else. Jack encouraged him to continue with his education and gave him a chance with another job on campus that would allow him more time for his studies. Today, he is a very successful businessman. He gives much of this credit to Jack who demonstrated the confidence in him when he really needed it. Clearly, Jack was an inspiration to many and was loved by all.

Lastly, Jack and his friends were often seen running in his green tights through campus or down Creek Road. The problem with running through campus with Jack was that he could not just say hi to anyone. He had to have a conversation and since he had been here for over 40 years, he knew everyone and everyone knew him. And, this is who Jack O’Neill was. He never met a stranger and he made everyone feel like he or she was his best friend. So, thank you for being a friend. I know you are still greeting everyone with a big smile and hearty “Hi, how are ya?” and a firm handshake or kiss on the cheek. We are better people for having known you. Thank you.


Feb. 15, 2008--John Joseph "Jack" O'Neill, 63, of Elkton, Md., died Feb. 14.

Prof. O'Neill had been part of the University community since his days as an undergraduate. He earned his bachelor's degree in physical education at UD in 1969 and his master's degree in educational leadership at UD in 1974.

In 1972, he became director of ice arenas and the outdoor pool, a role he filled for the next 10 years. In 1975, he became an assistant professor in what is now the College of Health Sciences, and he taught courses in "Issues in Health Behavior Management," "Leadership in Leisure and Sport Management" and "Women in Sport," among others. He also was director of Recreation and Intramural Programs from 1982-98, and had served as co-director of the Ice Skating Science Development Center since 1989.

Prof. O'Neill also was an active member of Delaware Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and a counselor on the Delaware Title IX Advisory Board. A member of the Delaware Olympic Committee from 1995-97, he was coordinator of the Figure Skating Coaching Education and Certification Commission, a collaborative effort of the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Figure Skating Association and the Professional Skaters Association.

Prof. O'Neill is survived by his wife of 41 years, Eileen (Lewis) O'Neill and three daughters: Colleen Van Dyke and her husband, Andrew; Erin O'Neill; and Kathleen O'Neill, as well as three grandchildren, Drew, Delaney and Emma, and five brothers and sisters.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1 p.m., Monday, Feb. 18, at St. Thomas More Oratory, 45 Lovett Ave., Newark, Del. Monsignor Michael Szupper will officiate. Family and friends may call from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made toward a scholarship being created in his name. Donations may be sent to: Gift Processing, In Honor of Mr. Jack O'Neill, Rees Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716.

To sign an online guestbook, visit [http://crouchfuneralhome.com/].