Sunday, October 24, 2004

Letitia O'Neil studied integration

She headed women's voter league in '70s

By Karen Andrew
Enquirer Staff Writer

CENTER SANDWICH, N.H. - Letitia Ann "Tish" O'Neil counted among her many accomplishments the presidency of the Cincinnati chapter of the League of Women Voters in the early 1970s and chair of one of the group's committees that studied integration issues in Cincinnati schools in 1975.

She acted as a watchdog while attending Cincinnati Board of Education meetings for the League and helped investigate how other school districts in the country desegregated.

"She could converse with the mayor of Cincinnati about important subjects like school desegregation and women's rights, and she would talk to her grandchildren about equally important issues, like music, bluebirds and hockey," said her son, John O'Neil of Stuarts Draft, Va. "God gave her the ability to speak to anyone and everyone about anything and everything."

Mrs. O'Neil died Oct. 11 at Lakes Region General Hospital, in Laconia, N.H. The former Mariemont and Hyde Park resident was 74.

She was born and raised in New York and graduated from Wellesley (Mass.) College in 1952. She moved to Cincinnati in 1962 when Procter & Gamble transferred her husband, James F. O'Neil.

After her children were raised, Mrs. O'Neil earned her master's degree in history at age 49 at Xavier University in 1979. She earned her doctorate in American history in 1989 from the University of Cincinnati when she was 59. She taught history at both universities.

She served as one of the early presidents of the Cincinnati chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in 1978-1982 and was president of the Wellesley Club of Cincinnati in 1971.

In 1988, she and her husband moved to Center Sandwich, N.H.

Mrs. O'Neil authored several works, including her dissertation "Family and Community in Transition: An Analysis of Three 19th Century Sandwich, New Hampshire Families" and co-authored Sandwich, New Hampshire, 1763-1990 - the written history of Sandwich.

In addition to her husband and son, survivors include three daughters, Ellen Karnan of Center Sandwich, Letitia Smith of Summerville, S.C., and Elizabeth O'Neil of Portland, Maine; and another son, Jeff of Moultonboro, N.H; and nine grandchildren.

Services have been held. She was interred in the Elm Hill Cemetery in Center Sandwich. Memorials: Wellesley College, 106 Central St., Wellesley, MA 02481-8203.


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