Bernard John ‘B.J.’ O’Neill, 95; Business Executive, Engineer


Bernard John ‘B.J.’ O’Neill, 95;

Business Executive, Engineer

FLY CREEK – A memorial service is upcoming Feb. 18, for Bernard John O’Neill (“B.J.”), 95, an engineer, business executive and former Town of Otsego Planning Board chair who died on Jan. 18, 2017, at his home in Fly Creek, while tended to by his daughter Maureen.

B.J. was born on May 25, 1921, in Saratoga Springs, the son of Jeremiah O’Neill and the former Lucille Sterk.  He graduated from Saratoga Springs High School in 1938 and Union College in 1942, with a degree in electrical engineering.

He then went to work for General Electric as an engineer in several locations, servicing defense contracts with the Navy.  He was later commissioned an officer in the Navy, and served on active duty from 1944 to 1946, including duty aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saidor, which he helped outfit with the latest in radar and communications equipment.

After the war, he went to work in the aerospace industry on Long Island, including time with Bell Aircraft and Lear Siegler, where he ultimately rose to the position of vice president of engineering and general manager.

In 1945, he married the former Jeannette Sanders of Fort Wayne, Ind., whom he had met while working for General Electric in Fort Wayne.  They were married for over 60 years; Jeannette predeceased him in 2008.

An active Democrat, he was twice the Democratic candidate for state Assembly while living in the Town of Huntington on Long Island.

In 1967, he returned to Upstate New York and the Cooperstown area, ultimately settling in Fly Creek in 1974.

He served as a member and chair of the Town of Otsego Planning Board, and was instrumental in drafting the first planning law enacted in the town.

In the mid-1980s, he transformed himself from an electrical engineer to a civil engineer, and established a thriving consulting engineering practice out of his home in Fly Creek.  He worked throughout the Leatherstocking Region, and down into the Catskills, designing many buildings and wastewater treatment systems.  He worked well into his 90s.

He was always active, and enjoyed swimming in Otsego Lake, cross-country skiing, skating, hiking and rock skipping.  He once skipped a rock across the Rappahannock River.  He was a certified master gardener.

In addition to his daughter, Dr. Maureen O’Neill Fellows (Jonathan) of Cazenovia, he is survived by his son Sean J. O’Neill (Judith) of Virginia, 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

The  memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 18, at the Tillapaugh Funeral Home in Cooperstown, with a reception to follow at Templeton Hall.

Burial in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Saratoga Springs,  will occur in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, the family  suggests  that donations in his memory be made to Union College, 807 Union Street Schenectady, NY 12308 or the Otsego Land Trust, P.O. Box 173,  Cooperstown, NY 13326.Funeral arrangements are under the care of Tillapaugh Funeral Home, Cooperstown.

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