Cover photo for JD  "Sonny" O'Neill's Obituary
JD  "Sonny" O'Neill Profile Photo
1931 JD 2021

JD "Sonny" O'Neill

January 2, 1931 — April 3, 2021

JD "Sonny" O'Neill, 90, of Livingston, Montana, passed away peacefully at his home on April 3, 2021, with his bride of 70 years at his side. Sonny was born on January 2, 1931 in Livingston, MT at the Robinson Hospital on C Street to Sadie Mae Roberts & Joseph John O'Neill. He was raised by his mother & Ed O'Neil the "Best Dad Ever". They lived in the Clyde Park and Livingston areas. The fact that he had 2 L's in his last name and his brothers and sisters only had 1, would often confuse people. When he was asked why, he would simply say "I knocked the L out of them when we were young" while giving them that big Sonny O'Neill grin.At the age of 16 in 1947, Sonny began as an apprentice tin smith and quickly became a master with the Northern Pacific Railroad. After three major railroad mergers, he retired from the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1996. He also enjoyed woodworking and building anything with his hands. If something didn't work the way that he wanted it to, he would rebuild it and make it work better.Sonny married the love of his life, Donalene "Donnie" Wheeler on March 29, 1951 on the 46th Anniversary of her Grandparents. They were blessed with four children Joelene, Peggy, Kemp & Jay Pat. He enlisted in the Air Force in July of 1951 and served his country during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in 1958. Sonny volunteered in Livingston as a fireman and was also a Sunday school teacher. He organized the Burlington Northern Search and Rescue. He had countless stories about the adventures of these searches. Sonny loved telling stories to anyone who would listen and had a wealth of knowledge regarding the history of the Park County area. He also volunteered on the City of Livingston Park Board. In their spare time, he and Donnie owned and operated O'Neill Ski-Doo for many years. His passion for snowmobiling was passed down to his children and grandchildren as he and Donnie snowmobiled into their 70's. He also enjoyed the outdoors and everything that they had to offer. Sonny and Donnie retired to Neihart, MT where they could snowmobile, 4 wheel and "Jeep" right from their home. While residents there, he served as assistant Fire Chief. He also helped to raise the funds to build a new fire hall in that community.Dad taught us the importance of loyalty and longevity both in our relationships and careers. His greatest pleasure was to spend time with his wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He taught us how to be good parents and even better grandparents. He was very proud of us all. Sonny is survived by his wife, Donnie, of 70 years. Children: Peggy O'Neill, Kemp (Lori) O'Neill and Jay Pat (Kim) O'Neill all of Livingston. Grandchildren: Erin (Tiffani) O'Neill, Sharnell (Ben) Pollington, Shea (Ariel) O'Neill, Andy and Adam Goodover, Deni (Jack) Holt, Shay (Chaycee) O'Neill, Josh (Ivy) O'Neill, Kayla (Andrew) Peck, Bella O'Neill (Dylan Anzick). Great-Grandchildren Quinlyn, Roan, Peyten, Lyla, Braxtyn, Loneah, Trent, KJ, Drea, Talia & LukeSurvivors also include his brother, Dick (Sandy) O'Neil; sister, Shirley (Ken) Powell; sister-in-law, Anita (Don) Kristensen; son-in-law, Pat Goodover; nieces & nephews, Sharon, Shawnda, John (Jeanine) Stevens & Kaleb, Stacy (Paul) Sunvison & Trevor, Shawn and Shay, Kelly, Shane, Casey & Kim and Taylor O'Neil, Scott (Christy)& Chase and Tanner O'Neil, Mike O'Neil, Duane O'Neil.Others who have led the way were his daughter, Joelene, his parents, a sister, Sharon, brothers, Jim and Tom and his father and mother-in-law, James and Edith Wheeler.The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, April 7th at 11am at the Redeemer Lutheran Church at 425 West Lewis in Livingston. A grave side committal will follow immediately afterward at the Mountain View Cemetery followed by a reception at the Livingston Christian Center at 1400 Mount Baldy Drive. The Christian Center will be opened at noon for those who do not wish to attend the grave side service. Memorials may be sent to Redeemer Lutheran Church or the charity of your choice.Due to the elderly attendance at this service, masks will be required.Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements. To view the obituary or share online condolences visit:
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