Jn Loving Memory
'Eric L.O'NeaC, M.D.
Tuesday, January 5, 1988
Memorial Moravian Church
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Interment at Western Cemetery
St Thor,.s. V.I.
Clara Monsanto O'Neal
Charlene O'Neal Henderson
Norman O'Neal Henderson
Viola O'Neal Mason
Iris Thompson / Audrey Monsanto / Virginia Monsanto
Cyril O. Monsanto
James Eric O'Neal Henderson / Erika Leanne Henderson
Ehren O'Neal Henderson
Juan Edwardo O'Neal
Rene Mason / Maria O'Neal / Irma O'Neal Suarez
Juan Edwardo O'Neal, Jr. / Brent O'Neal
Brandon C. Mason / Laurence Suarez
SPECIAL CLOSE FRIEND
Dr. John S. Moorhead
Many cousins, nieces and nephews-in-law and close friends
Morgan Daniel / James Eric O'Neal Henderson
Norman O'Neal Henderson / Humphrey Herman / Steve Monsanto
Juan Edwardo O'Neal / Winston O'Neal
Clive E.C. Banfleld / Dr. Axel Hansen / Dr. Alfred O. Heath
Allan E. Henderson / James O'Neal Henderson / Morris Rudolph Henderson
Leroy Herman / Cyril O. Monsanto / James Moorhead
Dr. John S. Moorhead / Henry O'Neal / Jose O'Neal
Reverend Charles Peters, Officiant
SL Leona Benjamin, Organist
S, Senator Virdin C. Brown, Soloist
ERIC L. O'NEAL, M.D.
March 24, 1906 December 27, 1987
f ric Leopold O'Neal, born in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, on March
24, 1906, was one of five children born to Edwardo O'Neal of St. Thomas
and Marie O'Neal, nee O'Neal, of Virgin Gorda. While only a few months old
he travelled to Santo Domingo with his mother to rejoin the rest of the family.
As a youngster, Eric was sent by his family to St. Thomas where he lived
with relatives while attending elementary school. He soon travelled again,
this time to the island of Antigua, where he was a student at the Antigua
Grammar School, graduating at the age of sixteen.
In 1923, he enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Working
his way through college and medical school as a waiter and elevator operator,
Eric O'Neal graduated from Howard University's Medical School onJune 6, 1930
and was the youngest in his class. This was the beginning of the fulfillment
of his childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor.
After internships at Harlem Hospital in New York City and at Hospital
San Antonio in San Pedro de Marcoris, Santo Domingo (which was established
and administered by Dr. Theodor Georg) he practiced medicine in Santo
Domingo. However, due to the political unrest of the Trujillo regime, Eric
decided to move to New York in 1934. It was while in New York that Eric
met Clara Monsanto of St. Lucia. They were married on February 24. 1939.
In 1942, Eric's close friend and classmate from medical school, Dr. John
S. Moorhead, convinced him and his wife Clara to move to St. Thomas. He took
Dr. John's advice and joined the staff of the Municipal Hospital and went
into private practice as well. This was to mark the beginning of a long and
productive sojourn in his adopted home which ended peacefully on the
evening of December 27, 1987.
This stay in St. Thomas was interrupted in the late forties when, once
again in search of more trainlngEric and his wife Clara journeyed to New York.
He joined the staff of the Triboro Hospital in Jamaica, New York and received
surgical training specializing in Thoracic Surgery. His training completed, Dr.
O'Neal returned to St. Thomas with his wife and rejoined the staff of the Muni-
cipal Hospital to serve the community he loved so well.
A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, he served as Commissioner
of Health at the Knud-Hansen Memorial Hospital from 1958 to 1961 during the
administration of Governor John David Merwin and again in 1969 under Gov.
ernor Melvin H. Evans. Dr. O'Neal was a prime mover in obtaining admission
of the Virgin Islands Medical Society to the American Medical Association.
Active in community affairs, Dr. O'Neal was a charter member of the
Rotary Club of St. Thomas.
A lover of Carnival and always ready to enjoy a "Jump-up," Eric was a
founding member of the Gypsy Carnival Troupe in 1952, and remained an
active member for many years, contributing his time and energies
to many activities during its formative years. He was loved and respected by
calypsonians, such as Sparrow, Melody, Cristo, Kitchener and Zebra to name
a few. Additionally he held positions on several boards and commissions,
and was an avid sports fan. He valued his friendship with the late Governor
Cyril E. King, as well as many other political figures, often serving as their
Eric O'Neal was a kind, affectionate, family man. He will always stand
out as one who served without fanfare or desire for recognition. Although many
of us have been touched by his service and the sincerity of his friendship,perhaps
only those who worked closest to him are truly aware of his contributions
to life in St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands as a whole.
D r. Eric L. O'Neal exhibited several features in a full life, most of which
was devoted to public health and medical practice.
He loved Santo Domingo, the country of his adoption from six months
of age. Following medical school and internship he returned there and worked
for a short period. The Trujillo dictatorship proved unwelcome to him and
he left, never to return.
After practicing for a few years in Long Island, N.Y., he came to St. Thomas
in 1942. This island offered full challenge to his energies. Early in his stay
he availed himself of an opportunity for a two-year training period in chest
surgery at Triboro Hospital in New York. Tuberculosis was still an important
health menace and the development of this expertise expanded the capability
of the Municipal Hospital.
Dr. O'Neal was intense in his support for and maintenance of accreditation
of Virgin Islands hospitals. The achievement of this objective was no small task
and the present absence was a source of dismay for him.
The importance of active Virgin Island medical societies stimulated his
interest. He was instrumental and remained an active contributor throughout
his lifetime in the formation of the St. Thomas St. John Medical Society.
John S. Moorhead, M.D.
LETTER TO PAPA
We love you with all our hearts. You have taught us many values in life
that we won't forget. The memories of you will never be forgotten. We under-
stand that everything in life must come to an end. We never realized the amount
of pain we would feel in letting go someone we love. We will try our hardest to
be the best that we can be in life. Love forever,
Eric, Erika, Ehren
"111 done; the great transaction's done. I am my Lord's, and he is mine."
With love, Rixie
JnTribute... Government House,
T he Virgin Islands has lost one of its true heroes our great friend and
beloved neighbor, Dr. Eric O'Neal.
But how fortunate we Virgin Islanders are to have been graced by his presence!
A kind and gentle man, a quiet and unassuming man, Dr. O'Neal was a humani-
tarian in the best sense of the word and long before it was popular to be
known as a humanitarian.
During his long career in medicine, both in the public and private sectors,
Dr. Eric O'Neal touched the lives of generations of his people. His door was
always open... he turned no one away.
We grieve at our friend's passing. We will miss him. But we should also
consider ourselves blessed that Dr. Eric O'Neal passed our way. Prince Hamlet's
remembrance of his father is especially appropriate as we say good-bye to Dr.
O'Neal: "He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like
Alexander A. Farrelly
Governor of the Virgin Islands
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
S called him Uncle Eric, but by whatever name we knew him, we knew he
made a difference. He brought to our islands a sense of commitment,
and a desire to give of himself so that the lives of others could be improved.
He had the personal strength of character to be a leader In medicine, in com-
munity affairs and the courage to seek change.
It is selfish of us, but it will be difficult not having him around for his advice
and his contributions to our community. Yet, his good works will be with us as
will our memories of him. I will miss him we will miss him.
Derek M. Hodge
Lieutenant Governor of the Virgin Islands
O n behalf of the members of the Seventeenth Legislature, my family, staff
and myself, I extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Dr. Eric
O'Neal on his recent passing.
We will surely miss Dr. O'Neal, our former Health Commissioner, for his
many worthwhile contributions to the Virgin Islands and the medical commu-
nity. Death is one inevitability that sooner or later we all must face, however,
despite that understanding and the fact that a loved one may have been ill for a
long period, we are somewhat never fully prepared for the passing of that per-
Words cannot adequately express the sympathy that we would like to con-
vey, but we hope that it will be comforting for the family of Dr. O'Neal to know
that we regret his passing.
We at the Legislature extend a hand of fellowship and love to the surviving
members of Dr. O'Neal's family. A man of Dr. O'Neal's talents and concern for
this community cannot be replaced. May the good Lord comfort and strengthen
his family and friends during this difficult time. With deepest sympathy,
Iver A. Stridiron
President, 17th Legislature
t is said that the character of a man can be measured by the level of
service he renders to his fellowman. In his lifetime, Dr. O'Neal sur-
passed ordinary measurements through the extraordinary service he gave to his
patients and his community. As a physician, commissioner, and public servant,
he gave his all. His life should be an inspiration to all Virgin Islanders in the
US. and British Virgin Islands for the respect he earned for his compassion,
his integrity, and his knowledge. He will always remain as a living legacy to the
people of these Islands whom he loved so dearly.
For me, he was and always will be, a source of inspiration, a model to
imitate, a guide to follow and most importantly, a friend whose memory I will
cherish. His personal impressions and characteristics are indelibly etched in the
minds, hearts, and activities of those who knew him and were influenced by his
presence. His great depth of understanding, compassion for others, acute sen-
sitivity and awareness of life enhanced his sincerity and effectiveness.
Wisdom teaches us that a tree is known by the majesty of its stature, the
shadow it casts, and the fruit it produces. By these standards Dr. O'Neal stood
tall and venerable, and his image and memory shall so remain. Words, however
artfully constructed, cannot match the bereavement you all feel. You are
entitled to grieve but always think of his life as a good, noble life. A life which
made the Virgin Islands a healthier and better place for us all to enjoy.
Dhalla, my family and staff join me in extending our deepest sympathy on
the passing of our beloved Dr. O'Neal.
Senator Cain Magras
Majority Leader, 17th Legislature of the Virgin Islands
MEMORIAL TRIBUTE TO DR. ERIC L. O'NEAL
Swas deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Eric L O'Neal, a
former Commissioner of Health, St. Thomas, US. Virgin Islands.
Dr. O'Neal was a very powerful man with a gentle spirit, full of human
ideals. He was an active member of the Medical Staff of the St. Thomas
His passing will leave a void in our community. He will be missed by those
who were privileged to know him for a long time and by those who knew
him for only a short time, but learned much from his genteel character.
The entire Department of Health joins me in expressing heartfelt sympathy.
Deborah McGregor, M.D., M.P.H.
Commissioner of Health
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Se have all heard the famous words of Theodore Roosevelt, "Speak softly,
I/ but carry a big stick," but it is not history's rough rider president whose
memory is elicited for many of us when we hear this cliche. Instead, It is Dr.
Eric Leopold O'Neal, whose passing on December 27th imposed moments of
silence on the territory's holiday spirits. The fact is, however, that those of us
who knew him remember that he spoke ever so softly, but carried within him a
powerful and magnanimous heart.
As the first physician in private office practice in the US. Virgin Islands, he
set a gold standard that we defend and protect to this very day. Patients still
remember him as a brilliant diagnostician, as well as a warm and personable
human being. We rarely heard him laugh, but his understated good humor
caused many an audience to chuckle; and always he maintained the poker
player's facade of a world class stand-up comedian.
Yet, as with his many other human virtues, Dr. O'Neal did not utilize
humor as an end in itself. He was always concerned about others and frequently
pondered their concerns on an equal footing with his own. He was one of those
rare beings that considered justice to be the greater end in and of itself, and
dedicated all his God given talents to that purpose.
We will remember Dr. Eric O'Neal as an author of laws, as a commissioner,
as a physician, and as a friend. We commend him, with our highest regards, to
life eternal. Amen.
Axel Heimer, Jr., M.D.
President, Virgin Islands Medical Society
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
D r. Eric O'Neal was one of the founding members of the St. Thomas -
St. John Medical Society, which he thought was necessary to maintain
continuity of cooperation among physicians. He was the first president of
the Society and assumed leadership in ensuring that it was founded on sound
principles. Indeed, he was also a pioneer in establishing our present health
system in the Virgin Islands. He was a walking encyclopedia of information and
his colleagues would always look to him for the final word on many issues. The
people of the Virgin Islands and his colleagues will long mourn his passing. The
members of the St. Thomas St. John Medical Society join in expressing our
sincerest condolences to his family at this time..
Carl Morrison, M.D.
President, St. Thomas St. John VJ. Medical Society
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
L ike a tidal wave, the Virgin Islands community was hit by the sad news
that Dr. Eric O'Neil is no longer amongst us. Eric was a faithful and firm
believer of Hippocrates' oath. His humanistic dedication to his medical profes-
sion made our local people feel proud of him. They felt it a great privilege and
honor to claim that they knew him personally; that he was not only their friend,
but regarded as a loved and respected family member in their heart.
I am not quite sure if our local people are aware that this loss is not only
theirs. It affects a larger, multinational, multiracial, multicultural, multireligious
region. Eric's loss affects the entire regions of 404 and 405 Rotary districts -
districts with enormous spread, from the Bahamas in the north, to Jamaica and
the Caymans in the west, to the borders of Brazil In South America.
In this vast region, Eric O'Neal was well known, not only as a dedicated
Rotarian implementing the Rotary's motto, "Service Above Self," but also
for the caliber of his character. In the various District Conferences he attended,
the wealth of his Rotary experience and exposure was available to anyone who
Genuine leadership, nowadays, is an "endangered commodity." Eric was
master of that commodity. He was gifted with the ability to inspire leader-
ship, enthusiasm and dedication to duty. A true leader is one who is capable of
getting others to follow in his steps.
I was fortunate enough to serve under him as chairman of a committee
while he was president of St. Thomas Rotary Club. I learned a lot from him,
especially the rules of Rotary International. He was a disciplinarian, also a born-
Rotarian. The Rotary principles and ideals were deeply rooted inside of him.
No wonder his club bestowed the highest Rotary honor of "Paul Harris Fellow"
He didn't keep his Rotary knowledge as a military secret from me, but
let me share It with him, so when the time came to step up, I would be ready to
occupy the prestigious chair. Even though Eric was my senior and a busy man,
he always offered to serve in any capacity needed. When the St. Thomas Rotary
U club was about to be formed, I advised him that I had Intentions, as Past
President, to transfer him so that he could be a kind of guiding light to the
new dub. Eric accepted my decision without any argument or objection.
Another memory I will never forget is the time our District undertook the
titanic job of immunizing 300,000 children against polio and 300,000 women
against tetanus. He was very concerned that the project would be successful,
and joined us in Haiti to give us his professional hand.
It is an undisputed fact that some names take a long-long time to fade
away. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that Eric O'Neal belongs to
that category. His inner qualities as a human have left an indelible imprint in
the minds and hearts of people, one that that powerful destroyer of all things -
time will be unable to erase. Men do not die, except when those living stop
thinking and talking about them.
Captain Coustantinos H. Coulianos
404 Past District Governor, Rotary International
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
M y friend, Dr. Eric L. O'Neal, has left us and I cannot believe that this
good man will no longer be around to share his warm spirit, his sound
advice, his strong convictions, his humor and his love with us.
It was my privilege to know him for many years. When I joined the Department
of Health in 1949, Dr. O'Neal had been on its very small medical staff for several
years. Although a surgeon, he was also called upon to perform medical services
in almost all the specialities internal medicine, conununicable diseases, ortho-
pedics, pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics at one time or another. He was even
called upon to do interpretations in radiology when we had no radiologist. He
served all age groups in out-patient clinics and in the hospital, answering on a 24
hour call basis because Dr. O'Neal was not a physician to shirk his duties or
neglect the needs of his patients.
His special training in thoracic surgery and keen interest in tuberculosis
control and treatment brought him the responsibility for the TB control pro-
gram and treatment of hospitalized patients, starting in a modest annex to the
old Municipal Hospital and later a modern TB unit at Knud Hansen Memorial.
Without his love and concern, the TB patients would have been "the forgotten."
Because of his caring, their needs were always brought to the attention of his
superiors, the hospital staff and the community. The patients improved, got
well, and were able to leave for home.
Dr. O'Neal was an excellent team player and supported the public health
programs as well as the acute medical care programs and preventive health
services of his colleagues.
He endorsed the objective of excellence for the island's hospitals and
recognized the need for upgrading the skill& of local personnel. Frustrated
by endless bureaucratic red tape and the absence of clear laws, rules and regula-
tions, he proposed revisions for legislative approval. Those guidelines and
directives became the foundation for administrative use in the islands' hospital
operations. As State Territorial Officer, he used the resources of Health, Edu-
cation and Welfare, as well as the American Medical and Public Health Associa-
tions. American Hospital Association and the standards of the Joint Commis-
sion on Accreditation of Hospitals in shaping our health care destiny.
This quiet, unpretentious man believed in the capabilities of our island
people and encouraged them to accept their roles and responsibilities. He
fought always to have the medical practitioners police themselves by compe-
tence, discipline and dedication to their profession. His quiet approval over a
job well done was as sincere as his roar of disapproval when a law was not
adhered to, or a principle ignored.
A believer in the concept of a governing body in the form of a board of
overseers to ensure quality of care in the hospitals, Dr. O'Neal was a tireless
lover of his profession and the institutions in which he practiced.
Not many will ever have fully recognized this man's true character or
philosophy; some may only partially know his service to humanity, but those
who really "knew" him will mourn the passing of this giant in health care who
left the land of his birth to give his all to his adopted homeland, the U.S. Virgin
Islands. God Bless you, Eric, and thank you for everything.
Helen Hay Banfield
Hospital Administrator (1956-1980)
Knud-Hansen Memorial Hospital
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
)r. Eric Leopold O'Neal A Partner of Health with God. He was
J there when we needed him most, not some of the time, but as often
as necessary. Dr. O'Neal was not just another Virgin Islander born to the com-
munity of the Virgin Islands, but, as it were -- a human God-sent to humanity.
On so many occasions he has established his partnership with his spiritual
partner in the healing of the sick, helping hands, caring and sharing of sacrifi-
cial deeds to so many others besides my immediate family.
On behalf of my father, Paul Alberto Quetel, and my daughter, Selah M.
Bryan, he was there. A family friend, physician, and confidant, we salute him
and his memory will live on in our hearts.
We seldom recognize the spiritual treasures that live among us until they
depart really, life holds its mysteries. We see two sets of footprints on the
sands and then, suddenly, on December 27, 1987, we just saw one set. Yes, he
is safe in the arms of his partner, Jesus, who lifted him away from all of us. But
not forever. In that "near to come" sweet by & by, well unite, never to part
again. Sleep on, Doctor "O," you deserve your rest.
Edith Q. Bryan
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
O n March 28, 1959, 1 found a friend. Or I should say a second father.
This friend and father was Dr. Eric O'Neal. He was always there for
me. He would listen and give sound advice when it was needed. He was never
too busy for me. When he didn't see me he would call all over until he located
me. He would then chastise me and let me know in no uncertain terms how
much I worried him. I can't begin to express the relationship we shared. I will
miss him to the end of my days. The spot he occupied in my heart will always
be vacant. No one can ever take his place. What a peaceful, quiet, loving person
was my dear Dr. O'Neal! With these fine qualities, I'm sure he is in the arms of
the Lord. Doc, enjoy your much deserved rest. We'll meet again as sure as the
Forever, Johnny Daniel
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
HI having known Dr. O'Neal all of our lives, we will cherish his memory. He
was our friend as well as our family. We'll remember with love the
parties, the boat outings with the children, Dr. O'Neal laughing with us all, as
well as at himself. He left us all in high spirits. He was kind and compassion-
ate and he lived, every day, his belief that the material world paled in compari-
son with that of family, friends, and community service. We cherish him, and
we are eternally grateful to him for the example he set for us and for our chil-
Alda and Babe Monsanto
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
5 am fortunate to have known Dr. Eric L O'Neal since childhood and
have found him, throughout, to be a warm, sensitive and most caring
person. Dr. O'Neal's contributions to the people of the Virgin Islands over the
past forty-five years, not the least of which was his dedicated pioneering of the
Territory's health programs, are innumerable and invaluable. His passing is a
grave loss to his family, friends, and the Virgin Islands communities. The ex-
ample he set for us is a legacy to inspire us in our personal and professional
Yvonne E.L. Thraen