In Memoriam – William O’Neil

Hadley, MA – William J. O’Neil, 80, of Hadley, passed away surrounded by his family at the Cooley Dickinson Hospital on Tuesday, January 9, 2024. He was born in Cambridge, MA on July 24, 1943, to the late William H. and Mary E. (Blewitt) O’Neil.

Bill was a graduate of Watertown High School, class of 1961, followed by Williams College where he was an active member of the class of 1965. He attended Boston College Law School where he graduated in 1969.

He moved to Washington, DC and was one of the first employees of the newly formed Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He returned to Massachusetts in 1971 where he set up a law practice in Arlington.

Next Bill was chosen as the Executive Director for Mental Health Legal Advisors for the Commonwealth. He then relocated to Western Massachusetts as a District Court administrator. He worked as an Assistant DA in Northampton for several years. Bill then entered into private practice which eventually became Jekanowski and O’Neil on Pleasant Street in Northampton. He often accepted cases and helped people regardless of their ability to pay. Bill later worked from home in Hadley.

He was a long-time member of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence. He had a term as president of the Board of Trustees there in the 1990’s. During his time of his first private law practice in Arlington, he had joined the Follen Unitarian Universalist Church in East Lexington.

Bill coached soccer and basketball when his kids were young and always took an interest in games and the positive role that sports played in youth.

He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Elizabeth (Rose) O’Neil, their sons, Kenneth of Chicopee, and Dennis of Hadley, and his close cousin Rev. James Hawker of Quincy.

Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his cousin Gary Hawker of Winchendon.

We would like to thank the dedicated and hardworking staff that cared for him at Linda Manor and CDH.

There will be a Celebration of Life on Saturday, February 24, 2024, at 1:30 PM at the Unitarian Society of Northampton, 220 Main St., Northampton.

DROZDAL FUNERAL HOME OF NORTHAMPTON has been entrusted with his services. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Amherst Survival Center, or the Northampton Survival Center.

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