Dr. Robert O’Neil, 97, of Topeka, died Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at his home surrounded by family.
Bob was born June 25, 1920 in Topeka, Kansas to Ralph T. O’Neil and Margaret Heizer O’Neil. He had very fond memories of growing up in the Potwin Neighborhood. He attended Topeka High School and The University of Kansas prior to attending The University of Kansas Medical School.
Bob was a skilled athlete and enjoyed boxing, tennis, soccer, and baseball. But he really excelled in football and basketball, going on to play both football and basketball at the University of Kansas. He was always happy to share that he played basketball for Phog Allen (telling Bill Self that if they needed help on the team, he still had two years of eligibility).
Bob never stopped being involved in sports, taking up handball and winning a 5-state doubles tournament in Denver. He played handball into his late sixties. An avid sports fan, he tried never to miss a KU football or basketball game. His winning attitude and understanding of teamwork helped form his strategy in medicine. He maintained a humility, never giving credit to himself.
Bob also enjoyed visiting Colorado, especially climbing, trail rides and fly fishing with his brother, Tom. However, no vacation was complete without a big box of medical books and journals to read.
Dr. O’Neil graduated from the University of Kansas in 1942, where he was a proud member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He then attended the University Of Kansas School Of Medicine where he earned his medical degree in 1945. He interned at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Corpus Christi, TX, followed by residency training at the VA Hospital in Excelsior Springs, MO and the Winter General VA Hospital in Topeka (now known as the Colmery-O’Neil VA Hospital). Bob’s specialty was Internal Medicine, and he completed a fellowship at the Winter General VA Hospital.
Dr. Robert O’Neil was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, serving active duty on the U.S.S. Sabine as Ships Doctor. After the war, he served at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Houston, TX and the U.S. Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, IL.
Dr. O’Neil began private practice in 1951, and did not retire until age 80. After retiring, Bob continued to serve as a member of Stormont-Vail’s Operating Committee until October of 2013.
Bob was active in and served on many societies and organizations throughout the years, including the American Medical Association, Kansas Medical Society, Shawnee County Medical Society, American College of Physicians (Fellow), Senior Aviation Medical Examiner for FAA, the Advisory Board for the Governor of the Kansas College of Physicians, and Southwestern Bell Telephone Medical Advisor for Kansas. In addition, Dr. O’Neil was professionally honored by being made a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He was selected to receive the Laureate Award from the American College of Physicians (1992), Bal Jeffery Award for Distinguished Contributions to Health Care in NE Kansas (1992), and a personal favorite, he was inducted into the Topeka High School Hall of Fame in 1994. He was inducted into the Topeka Business Hall of Fame in 2012, and was also recognized by Ingrams Magazine as one of the top doctors.
He also held many offices and positions over his career, including State of Kansas Board of Regents Health Education Committee Chairman, Washburn University Board of Regents, St. Francis Hospital Medical Staff Treasurer, Chairman of the Steering Committee for Development of Stormont-Vail Heart Station, Liaison Committee for Shawnee County Medical Society and Topeka State Hospital, Medical Service Board Shawnee County Medical Society, Secretary-Treasurer Medical Staff St.Francis, Captain St. Francis Building Fund Campaign, Vice-President of Staff and Executive Committee Stormont-Vail Hospital, Medical Advisory Board Local Chapter Multiple Sclerosis, Board of Directors Topeka Blood Bank, Chairman Medical Records St. Francis Hospital, Director Dept. of Medicine St Francis Hospital, Infection Control Committee St. Francis Hospital, Chairman Emergency Room Committee St. Francis Hospital, Tissue and Audit Committee St. Fran¬cis, Committee on Medical Aspects of Drivers Licensure, Chairman Inhalation Therapy Dept. Stormont Vail, Medical Equipment Committee Stormont Vail, and State Committee for Control of Respiratory Disease.
Hospital Appointments for Robert O’Neil, MD included active staff at Stormont-Vail Regional Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center, and consultant in Internal Medicine at Topeka State Hospital.
Robert married Linda (Bennett) O’Neil on April 1, 2001 in Lawrence, KS. She survives.
Other survivors include a son, James Palmer O’Neil (Deb), of Topeka, KS; daughters, Sally Ann (O’Neil) McManus (Jack), of Irvine, CA, and Kathleen Christine “Casey” O’Neil-VanTuyl (Larry), of Topeka, KS; step-sons, Scott A. Schell (Jill), of Topeka, KS, Todd M. Schell (Bev), of Topeka, KS; granddaugh-ters, Sara Brownell (Trevor), Melissa McManus Bernadino (Stephanie), Hannah Schell, Zoe Schell, Beth Black (Casey), Julia Frazier, and Ashley Zayed; and grandsons, Tucker Schell, and Adam VanTuyl (Rachel).
He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Ralph Thomas O’Neil; and his first wife, Royce Palmer O’Neil.
A Memorial Service for Dr. O’Neil will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 12th, at First Presbyterian Church, 817 SW Harrison Street, Topeka. The family will receive friends following the memorial service at the church.
Private burial will take place at Mount Hope Cemetery & Funeral Chapel.
Due to the possibility of parking being impacted by the Cruisin’ The Capitol, please consider utilizing the parking at First United Methodist Church, 6th Ave. & Harrison St., as well as the underground parking at the Capitol Building.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Stormont-Vail Foundation, the Topeka Rescue Mission or the charity of your choice.
Penwell-Gabel Southwest Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements.
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