It is with great sadness that the family announces the passing of Brian O’Neil of Middle River, which occurred at the Chaleur Regional Hospital on Sunday, March 7th, 2021 at the age of 87.
Born in Bathurst, he was the son of the late Daniel and Melvina (Boucher) O'Neil.
He is survived by his children: Susan Rogers (Ernie) and Chris O’Neil (Ellen) both of Middle River, NB, Donald O’Neil (Nicole) of Fort McMurray, AB and Patrick O’Neil (Sandra) of Quispamsis.
Eight Grandchildren: Jenna, Matthew, Dana, Ashley, Monica, Sean, Ethan and Madeline and five great-grandchildren: Cassidy, Rhys, Patricia, Ava Jo and Malakai.
One son-in-law, Jean-Marc Hachey (late Marlene) of Middle River.
Brian is also survived by three stepchildren: Christine Cluett (Tony) of Grande Prairie, AB, Kevin DeCoste of Bathurst, Keith DeCoste (Sabina) of Ottawa, ON and five step-grandchildren: Ty, Sam, Sarah, Adam and Sophie.
One sister, Gail O'Neil Allain of Halifax, NS. One brother: Daniel Jr. O'Neil (Carol) of Bathurst. Several nieces and nephews.
Brian was predeceased by his first wife Jeannette (Melanson) O’Neil and his second wife Yvette (Leger) (DeCoste) O’Neil; a daughter Marlene Hachey; granddaughter, Jessica Rogers; sisters: Helena Veniot, Shirley Aube, Patricia (TC) Melanson and Sharon Comeau; brothers: George and Johnny.
Since Brian O’Neil was well known as a man of few words, it seems fitting to choose a few words which speak to the man he really was. Brian was raised in a family with strong ties to their traditions, to their communities and to one another. He raised his family the same way. His grandchildren know him lovingly as everything from Grampy, to Papa to Dodo. He built his life around his family, his profession and his deep-rooted values. He took pride in hard, honest work. He valued learning how to solve problems and fixing things on his own. He liked to keep things simple and finish a task. He loved to help others whenever he saw they needed help. Unless asked, Brian rarely talked about himself or his accomplishments. He’d rather work on a problem than talk about it. He’d quietly go about the business of life without undue concern about compensation or praise. He’d rather give than receive. In his professional life, beginning as a 19-year-old volunteer firefighter in 1952, he served us all for another 42 years. His exemplary service led to his being named Bathurst’s Fire Chief in 1982, a position he held until retirement 12 years later. Brian earned the respect of his family, his friends, his fellow firefighters, and the whole community.
A lifetime of raising a family of five, working round the clock, learning new skills and solving problems for himself and others, made for a seamless transition to a happy retirement. A lifetime of family celebrations, gatherings and listening to anyone who could sing or play a piano, fiddle, banjo, guitar, or even a pack-of-cards or a tell a tale, prepared him for years more of the same. He loved his children and grandchildren. Whether in Middle River or Up-River, Brian continued to be that hard-working farmer, that skilled woodsman, that much-loved father and grandfather, that good neighbor, that trusted friend and that quiet gentle man of few words that we all knew and loved. Some of us can even forgive him for being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.
A special thank you to Anita Carrier and the staff of the Chaleur Regional Hospital for the excellent care given to Brian.
Public visitation will be held from Elhatton’s Funeral Home (www.elhatton.com), Bathurst, on Sunday, March 14, 2021 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 with Covid restrictions in place. Funeral Mass will be celebrated from Holy Family Church, Bathurst, on Monday, March 15, 2021 by invitation only.
Donations in memory of Brian may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.