O’Neil, Al E.

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                                       AL E. O’NEIL
                                      By Willie Wark

NELSON – Hundreds jammed the small park across from the school here Friday night for a tribute to the late Al O’Neil. O’Neil died on Dec. 11, 1995 after serving the community as a Boy Scout leader for 30 years.

Family members sobbed as Father Doug McCarthy unveiled and blessed a monument dedicated to the memory of O’Neil.

A parade led by Louis Galliah of the Miramichi Pipes and Drums marched from the school to the monument in Bicentennial Park. Boy scouts, cubs, beavers, girl guides and RCMP who had been part of O’Neil’s troupe at one time or another kept perfect step.

Several speakers spoke, praising O’Neil’s work, his values and his accomplishments as the evening sun settled over nearby Beaubear’s island. “He was a scouter of the highest order all the time he served. He became a district commissioner who fought for the Miramichi,” said district commissioner Lawrence Mather. “He was first and foremost a scout master who taught his skills and values to over 700 boys in the last 30 years. His message was simple – be a good citizen at least or a good leader at most.”

Father Bob Grattan traced O’Neil’s life in his tribute. “Al was born in Chatham Head, served in the Second World War and moved back to the area. Then he married Eileen Fitzpatrick in 1943. They had five children and settled in Nelson Miramichi.

“In 1956, I was asked to find a leader for a Boy Scout movement that was badly needed in the community. I thought of Al and asked him. He said he’d try it for a while. At the time he and Eileen were busy raising their family. “He accepted it, he felt challenged. He did it well and he did it willingly.

“Al O’Neil has been celebrated for his scouting achievements many times, but this is the final time. It is only fitting then that during this final time we remember that behind every good man there stands a good woman. Let us thank Eileen Fitzpatrick O’Neil and her family for Al’s time,” said Gratton.

With that, hundreds of people came to their feet, clapping while Father Doug McCarthy unveiled the monument.

Source: Miramichi Leader – July 16, 1996

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