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Thomas "Tom" Charles O'Neal, 76, retired railroader and trucking company owner, died on Nov. 4, 2002, at his home after a long and courageous battle with many illnesses and disabilities.

Cremation has taken place.

Vigil followed by rosary will be 7 p.m. today at the Holland and Bonine Chapel. Memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at St. Jude Catholic Church with the Rev. Robert D. Grosch officiating. Committal rite is to follow the memorial service at the Highland Cemetery.

Tom was born on June 24, 1926, to Thomas and Rose (Stremcha) O'Neal. He attended St. Jude and Havre Public Schools. He then went to work for the Great Northern Railway, which later became Burlington Northern Railway, where he worked for 32 years until he retired. He also owned the T.C. Trucking Co. in Havre, which hauled many different kinds of freight.

He fell in love and married Patsy Ruth Nelson on July 2, 1945, in Chinook.

They built a house and life together in Havre and had four children. Tom later purchased a small piece of land just northwest of town where he fulfilled a dream of living a serene, rural lifestyle. He raised many animals and spent a great deal of time outdoors working with his tractor.

He dedicated many years of his life to the healing of others and himself as an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). After his health began to fail many years ago, it was difficult for him to leave the house, his dear friend still delivered his yearly medallions to him on St. Patrick's Day, which was his AA birthday. This coming year, he would have received his 40-year medallion.

Tom was a very strong man who loved to work hard, yet he was tender and compassionate. He had an instinctive knack for figuring out complex situations and he was never afraid to take risks, always encouraging people to find their limits and understand themselves. He will be remembered by most as an avid storyteller, who had experienced life to the fullest.

Tom was preceded in death by his wife, Patsy Ruth O'Neal; parents; son, Danny O'Neal; and grandson, Josh Rodgers.

Tom is survived by his brother, Norman O'Neal of Havre; children, Rhonda (Larry) Webb of Seattle, Wash., Timothy O'Neal of Havre, Kathleen (Richard) Johnson of Havre, Kelley (Harold) Ferguson LCPC of Havre; nine grandchildren, Aaron Webb of Bozeman, Crystal (Webb) Powelson of Morenci, Ariz., Branda Rodgers of Cut Bank, Christopher O'Neal of Missoula, Suener (O'Neal) Springer of Aurora, Colo., Melony (O'Neal) Steckel of Havre, Danny O'Neal of St. Ignatius, Desmond Ferguson of Havre, Anthea Ferguson of Havre; and 11 great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the Maryknoll Fathers, Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, P.O. Box 304, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0304.

Services and arrangements are under the direction of the Holland and Bonine Funeral Home in Havre.


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