Sunday, March 23, 2014
4:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
Turowski Life Story Funeral Homes
Livonia, West of Middlebelt
30200 Five Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154
Scripture Service at 7:00 pm
Life Story / Obituary
Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, James O’Neil was a humble and gracious man whose greatest joy was found in the love and friendship he shared with the ones he cherished. He was a man of honor and integrity who drew others near with his warm smile, fun-loving personality, and generous spirit. Jim was a devoted father to be sure, but he just may have argued that becoming a grandfather was his richest reward. He was Irish and German, but he was thrilled beyond measure to be adopted into the traditional Italian family of the daughter-in-law he loved as his own. Life will surely never be the same without Jim here, but his unwavering character, contagious laughter, and unending zest for life will live on through those who follow him.
During the first half of the 1940s the eyes of our nation were focused on the fighting overseas during WWII while those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing, victory gardens, and gathering around radios awaiting news from the front lines. It was on September 6, 1942, that Joseph Francis and Edith Marie (Ehrenberg) O’Neil were blessed with the birth of their son, James Joseph, in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was raised in the family home in Hudson Gardens in Jersey City alongside his young sister, Denise. Jim loved playing baseball, especially catcher, and he also liked playing stickball, bottle caps, and making model airplanes and cars. He had an extensive collection of comic books and baseball cards, which would have made him a wealthy man had his mother not thrown them away! Jim’s mother called him Jiminy Cricket as a boy, and later in life he got a tattoo bearing this name.
By the time he was a teen Jim seemed to have the world by the tail. He and his buddies were known to ride their bikes on the rooftops of the apartment buildings, which horrified his mother when she heard of this years later. Jim and his good friends, Denny “Max” and Woody, liked going to the drive-in and then hanging out at the White Mana afterward where they enjoyed getting their food delivered by the young gals on roller skates. Jim drove around town in his 1951 Ford that he called “Freddy Ford,” and for the rest of his life he always loved his cars including a 1966 Chevy SS and a 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix. He attended local schools and graduated from Dickinson High School in 1960.
Life was forever changed for Jim when he met and later married Carol Traina on February 8, 1964. Life truly began for him when he came home from working the nightshift just over a year later, and Carol told him they were headed to the hospital where they welcomed their only child, Jim, on June 11, 1965. Throughout his life Jim considered that day and the day that his only grandchild, James, was born to be the two best days of his life.
Jim was a hardworking man who spent many years at Continental Can Company. In order to further his career he followed wherever his work took him including to Boston and then back to New Jersey. By the end of his career Jim was working as a quality control manager in the metal and graphics design industry at Bway Corporation.
Since Jim always said, “There’s a small window of time that you get the chance to influence your grandchildren,” he moved to Michigan in 2009 after retiring to be near his son and his family. He loved his daughter-in-law, Lolly, and he was adopted into her Italian family, the Cartas, in Michigan. In fact, her parents, aunts, and uncles presented Jim with a certificate that he signed accepting his new Sardinian name, “Boiteddu Fogarizzu,” which means small ox that can start a fire standing up. He was there for all of their family gatherings and accompanied them on their annual Torch Lake vacations where he could satiate his love for all of his favorite things - food, drink, and relaxation. Although he was Irish, Jim loved Italian food and made a point to help out when the Carta family made tomato sauce or sausage. He dressed up as Santa Claus for the Carta family Christmas one year and did a great job, but he could only say, “Ho, ho, ho,” for fear of his Jersey accent blowing his cover with the kids!
Everything Jim enjoyed in life was made better when shared with the ones he loved. He spent more than 25 years with his girlfriend, Rosemary Mucaro, and several times a year he traveled to New Jersey to visit with her, and her family. For Superbowl III Jim and his close friend, Sabby Noto, started the tradition of getting Chinese takeout and watching the game. This tradition continued with his son’s family. In his thirties he enjoyed taking annual vacations to Las Vegas with Sabby and his wife, Angela, and he also liked taking road trips to Vermont and Virginia Beach with his family and friends. Jim was an avid golfer who looked forward to golf trips with Kevin Kohler, Aftan Chowanski, and Bob Coe in addition to many other friends, and once in Michigan he played on a golf league every Monday afternoon. Jim shared his love for golf with his grandson by buying James his first set of golf clubs and spending countless hours with him at the golf range or tagging along on his golf lessons. He had an impressive gun collection that he liked showing others, and he loved going to the gun range with anyone who showed an interest. Jim was greatly surprised when over 40 of his family and friends came to honor him at his surprise 70th birthday party including his 91 year old mother who came all the way to Michigan from New Jersey. In addition, he was an avid reader who kept a spreadsheet of the books he read so he didn’t check out the same book twice. Jim’s love for sports remained with him throughout his life as his favorite teams were the New York Yankees and the New York Giants.
All who knew James O’Neil would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was straightforward and didn’t put on airs about who he was while at the same time he treated everyone with the utmost respect. Known as the “Crumb Cake Deliveryman,” Jim was forever thinking of others as he always returned from New Jersey with the most amazing crumb cakes to enjoy at family parties. He was a great listener who also gave the best advice, and his smile was always a welcome sight. Jim, and his infectious laughter will be deeply missed but never forgotten.
James Joseph O’Neil passed away peacefully at the age of 71, on March 20, 2014. Loving son of Edith O’Neil. Loving father of Jim (Loredana) O’Neil, loving grandfather of James O’Neil, loving brother of Denise Bove, loving uncle of Todd and Brandon, loving friend of Rosemary Mucaro. Visitation Sunday 4-9pm at Neely-Turowski Life Story Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile Road (btn Merriman and Middlebelt) with a Scripture Service at 7pm. Funeral Mass Monday 10:00am at St. Priscilla Catholic Church (north side of Seven Mile and west of Middlebelt) with instate 9:30 am until time of Mass. Please visit www.TurowskiLifeStory.com where you may sign the guestbook, share a memory, or upload a photo.