In Memoriam: Thomas N. O'Neil


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death by drowning September 12, 1997 of Member of the Corporation Thomas N. O’Neil in Falmouth. A resident of Concord, MA, and Woods Hole, he was 49.

At the time of his death, Tom O’Neil was on a brief leave of absence from the Middlesex School in Concord, MA, where he was a teacher, coach and college counselor and had worked for 25 years. He was elected to his first three-year term as a Member of the Institution’s Corporation in 1995 and served on the Corporation’s Education Ad Hoc Committee and Member Orientation and Education Committee.

A graduate of the Middlesex School in 1967, Tom O’Neil received his bachelor’s degree in English in 1971 from Harvard College. While at Harvard he served as Freshman Advisor and Assistant to the Master of Dunster House, as Assistant Director of the Harvard College Fund, and as an interviewer on the Harvard College Admissions Committee. He pursued graduate studies in business, education and public policy at Stanford University, Yale University, and Harvard University. During the 1996-97 academic year he took a professional leave from Middlesex School to teach at Tufts University and the Graduate School of Education at Harvard. He participated in the leadership program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1994, the Advanced Management Institute at the Yale School of Organization and Management in 1992, and The Principals’ Center at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1992. From 1988 to 1990 he had a fellowship in the Program in Independent Studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, and pursued numerous graduate courses in organization, management and leadership at Harvard Business School, the Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard School of Education. He was a Visiting Fellow in 1988 at the Richard King Mellon Foundation, working as program officer for education, civic and cultural affairs, and conservation.

Tom O’Neil joined the faculty at Middlesex School in 1972 and held many positions there through the years, including English teacher, Director of College Counseling, Assistant Director of Admissions, Dean of the Upper School, Dean of the School, Assistant to the Headmaster. For most of his tenure, he was head of Higginson House, a boys’ dormitory where he also lived. He also served as minority student advisor, as a member of the curriculum committee, and as a member of the school’s Trustee Committees on Long Range Planning, Strategic Planning, Curriculum, Athletics, and Financial Aid. Tom was well-known in New England and the Independent School League as a squash and lacrosse coach and was involved in both sports on the national level. He also coached football.

In addition to his responsibilities at the Middlesex School and at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Tom served as a Trustee of The Peninsula Foundation, as Director of The Performance Group, Inc., and as a counselor in Project Reach at Freedom House in Roxbury, MA. He served on the management board of Massachusetts Special Olympics, as a member of the Mayor’s Committee on Boston-Australian Affairs, and as a member of the Governor’s Committee on Sports and Fitness. Tom also served as a member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Evaluation and Accreditation Visiting Committee in 1987 and 1989, and was the Middlesex School faculty representative to many regional and national educational associations. He was a consultant on secondary school, college and university athletic programs, and served as a panelist at Harvard College’s Counseling Forum, at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and participated in Middlebury College’s Program in Education. He was the author of Making Teams in 1994 and co-author of Playing as One published in 1993.

Tom is survived by a sister, Constance O’Neil White, of Monkton, Maryland; a half-sister, Taylor Wilcox, of San Francisco, California; and a nephew, William O’Neil White. A memorial service will be held Sunday, October 19, at 4:00 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel at the Middlesex School. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be sent to the Thomas N. O’Neil Scholarship Fund, Middlesex School, Concord, MA 01742.


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