John W. O’Neill – Upper Telegram


John W. O’Neill, 93, born Dec. 22, 1928, in Red Lake, MN, the eldest of ten children, died April 9, 2022, at Essentia Health Saint Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, surrounded by his family.

John’s family moved to Superior in 1942. He attended Superior Cathedral High School where he played football and was on the boxing team. In December of his freshman year, just days after his birthday, he enlisted in the United States Navy, where he trained in Great Lakes, deployed to San Diego, Calif., sailed aboard USS Sierra and was stationed for several months at the Port of Tsingtao, China. After two years he returned to Superior and married Donna Fae Crist on September 15, 1951, and they were married for 68 years until his death in February 2020.

John worked on the railroad before becoming a firefighter for the city of Superior, where he served 16 years and drove the main fire truck to Sixth Street Station. In the early 1970s he entered the insurance business with Travelers and John then bought and operated the independent insurance agency Howe McCabe for many decades until his retirement in 2010.

He loved his wife Donna Fae dearly, and they have vacationed many times over the years in places like Hawaii, Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and Grand Cayman Island.

He loved his family more than anything and enjoyed attending his grandchildren’s activities including John and Taylor’s hockey games, traveling to the Twin Cities, Canada and New York to watch them play. John and Donna Fae loved Katie’s dance recitals and were especially proud when her dance team performed at the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

He was the kind of guy who could do anything around the house with a hammer, a wrench, a screwdriver or a paintbrush. He enjoyed deer hunting and took his son Brett bowhunting when he was only five years old; John has also killed his share of deer while rifle hunting with firefighters and other friends over the years.

Those who knew John realized that he enjoyed being among people in a public place, whether at the golf course, in a restaurant or in a pub and was adept at telling a story that suited all occasions.

John will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

Predeceased by his beloved wife, Donna Fae, by his parents, George and Alice and by seven of his siblings, brothers George, Raymond, Thomas, James, Jerome, sisters Patricia and Kathleen.

Survived by his son Brett and his wife Patti, of Ramsey, MN, by his grandchildren, John and Katie of Ramsey, MN and Taylor of Seattle, WA and by his brother Michael of Bemidji, MN, and his sister Dorothy of Cincinnati , OH.

His life will be celebrated at a private family memorial service to be held on May 7, 2022 in Ramsey, MN. Downs Funeral Home, Superior, WI is taking care of the arrangements.

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