Obituary : Margaret S. O'Neill
Margaret S. O'Neill, a lifelong resident of Edgartown and long-time Dukes County treasurer who devoted her life to her family and community, died on March 23. She was 88.
Her life began and ended in Edgartown, the town that was the center of her life and that of her family.
She was the first of four daughters of John and Meriam Stuhler. She began life in what is now Jeff Norton's office, not far from where she is now buried in the Old Westside Cemetery, where her father spent summers working as a private chauffeur for the Farris family.
As a young girl, the family spent winters in New York City before settling in Edgartown. She graduated from Edgartown High School and attended Chandler School of Business and returned to marry John O'Neil. Over her life she raised eight children and enjoyed watching her family expand with the addition of 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
As a young woman she worked with her grandmother and mother at the family's Royal Restaurant in the yellow house on Main Street. While attending high school she served lunch at the restaurant and then returned to school.
She enjoyed telling the story of Henry Hough, former editor and publisher of the Vineyard Gazette, arriving for lunch before his wife, and co-publisher, so he could eat what she would forbid him to eat.
Mrs. O'Neill possessed a strong grasp of numbers and a good business sense. Those skills served her well in business and government and made her a formidable voice at town meeting. When her husband became incapacitated because of illness, it became necessary for her to go to work.
She began work for Leroy Vose Insurance on Main Street, and went on to become a realtor. She later served as Dukes County Treasurer, then housed in the Dukes County Court House on Main Street. She served as the elected county treasurer from 1968 to 1990.
Throughout her working life, she raised a large and active family. She instilled in her family her values of family life, serving her community and caring for others.
Her first four children were raised on Morse Street, in the cottage of Mary Wimpenny. After the family outgrew that very small house they moved to Upper Main Street where the Edgartown National Bank branch is now located. At the time, the location was considered way out of town.
One of her passions was duplicate bridge, a game she attempted to teach her children, without much success. "She told us we talked too much and didn't pay attention to the cards," her son Richard recounted.
She was proud to have attained her Life Master points in bridge and traveled the country to various tournaments. Bridge became her avenue to travel on cruise ships, where she taught bridge. She would return with stories of the places she visited, but always glad to return home.
As a member of the Zonta Club, she also traveled to foreign places and met many fascinating and influential people. Zonta took her to five continents of the world.
Mrs. O'Neill enjoyed social gatherings of all kinds. She loved walking the streets and shores of Edgartown. After she broke her leg while bike riding, she began making miniatures and went at it with all the energy she applied to her other interests. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were the recipients of many of her projects.
She is survived by sisters Dorothy Worden of Oak Bluffs and Jeanne Tallmadge of Plantation, Fla.; children Margaret Serpa, Sharon Willoughby, Kathryn Bettencourt, Stephen O'Neill and Elizabeth (Edward) Herrmann of Edgartown and Richard O'Neil (Pamela) of Naples, Fla.,); grandchildren Ann (David) Rossi, J. Anthony (Lauren) Serpa , Eric (Kim) Serpa, Glenn Serpa, Tricia Willoughby, Gregg (Sandra) Willoughby, Karen (Daniel) Hiemer, Antone (Ericka) Bettencourt, Sean
Herrmann, David Herrmann, John McMahon, and Jason O'Neil; and great-grandchildren: Meagan, Alex and Matthew Rossi, Joseph and Daniel Serpa, Caitlin and Christopher Serpa, Ava Willoughby, and Kassidy, Megan and Annie Bettencourt. Her sons Peter and Michael O'Neill predeceased her.
A funeral service and burial took place on March 26 under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs.
Donations in her memory may be made to: Alzheimer's Services of Cape Cod and the Islands, 712 Main Street, Hyannis, MA 02571 or Friends of the Edgartown Public Library, c/o Edgartown Public Library, Box 5249, Edgartown, MA 02539.