NAUGATUCK — It is with deep sorrow and much love that we announce the passing of George B. O’Neil. George, 93, died unexpectedly on Jan. 1 in Branford, surrounded by his beloved wife, Lilly, and family. He was born July 1, 1927, in Boston, Mass., and was the son of the late Margaret Sullivan Cartledge.
George greatly distinguished himself in service to his country, serving as both a Navy Seabee in Japan during WWII, and later as an army sergeant/staff sergeant in the Korean War.
After the war, George met Lillian Humphries at Boston City Hospital, where she was a student nurse. George married Lillian on Oct. 16, 1954, at St. Francis Church, Naugatuck. They were married for over 66 wonderful years and raised four children.
Over his long working life, George spent 27 years at the Uniroyal Footwear Division and 10 years with the Naugatuck Board of Education. Never one to rest idly, he continued to work after retirement and could always be found doing something, unconcerned as to whether it was paid or unpaid.
One of George’s greatest pleasures in life was being a father and grandfather, and he relished the opportunity to teach his children to ride bikes, swim and drive. Each winter he constructed an ice rink in the backyard using a plastic tarp in order to ensure that his own children, as well as the kids in the neighborhood, learned to skate.
George loved to vacation, and he and Lilly looked forward to the time they spent annually at the Cape or Lake Spofford in New Hampshire. George was always game for an adventure, and while in Japan he climbed to the top of Mt. Fuji. George instilled his own love of travel in his children, taking many cross-country trips as well as traveling abroad. When not engaged in travel, he and his brother, Thom, enjoyed a common passion for swimming in the ocean and eating lobster rolls at Lenny’s in Branford.
Over the course of 30 years, George was a familiar face at the Oxford Airport where he enjoyed fulfilling the unique and enviable role of “most preferred passenger & co-pilot.” Many a weekend afternoon was spent with his flying buddies, traveling to Block Island to enjoy lunch.
George was a life-long learner who had a fascination with life, and his diverse range of interests included: The New England Opera auditions in Boston (at which he usually picked the winner); stamp and coin collecting; the study of history; and ballroom dancing with Lilly. George had a genuine interest in people, and the sharing of stories was a source of great pleasure. It has been said quite aptly of George that he was one of the last “true gentlemen.” Most of us would be hard-pressed to remember George without a twinkle in his eye and the warmest of smiles on his face for family, friends and strangers.
George was preceded in death by his mother, Margaret Sullivan Cartledge; Margaret and Archie Bissonette (who were like family to George); mother-in-law, Marie Humphries; Bernard, Billy and Gertrude McCourt (like family to him). He is survived by his wife, Lillian; daughter, Kathleen O’Neil-Meyers and her husband, Tren, of Branford; daughter, Nancy O’Neil of East Haven; son, Brian O’Neil of Meriden; daughter, Colleen O’Neil of Naugatuck; granddaughter, Maryn O’Neil of Washington, D.C.; brother, Thomas Cartledge and wife, Susan, of Madison; and Paul Gradwell (akin to a son) of Meriden.
The graveside service is open to all and will be held Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, 11 a.m. at St James Cemetery, Cross Street, Naugatuck.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish to honor George O’Neil’s memory may do so by donating to Boys Town, 14100 Crawford St., Boys Town, NE 68010 and St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children, 90 Cushing Ave., Dorchester, MA 02125.
To leave an online statement of condolence for the family, visit www.buckmillerthurstonmengacci.com.