Barbara — “Bobbie” — was the second child of Katherine and Frederick Kaelin of Alvah’s Lane, Cutchogue, N.Y. Born Sept. 9, 1938, in Greenport, she was home safe with her sister, Anne, and parents during the ’38 hurricane. Baby brother Fred would join their family five years later.
Bobbie graduated from Southold High School and went on to Mary Immaculate Hospital for a three-year nursing program, which led to her degree as a Registered Nurse. It was while working as a nurse that she met her future husband, James P. O’Neill.
Married on Nov. 12, 1960, at Sacred Heart Church in Cutchogue, they eventually settled in Wantagh. She continued nursing work until her firstborn, Barbara Mary, arrived. Soon after, James, Patrick and Eileen made up the O’Neill bunch. Later, when the children were teenagers, she became a licensed insurance agent with an office in their home.
Bobbie and Jim shared their Catholic faith with their children, grandchildren, relatives, friends and strangers just met. Both became Franciscan Laypersons and Bobbie was elected to represent the Franciscans at the United Nations for several years. She belonged to a prayer group, meeting every Wednesday night for more than 25 years. Those prayer “buddies” knew her as a “very special person.” In addition, she worked lovingly in the Rite of Christian Initiation Program for those wanting to join the Catholic faith or increase their understanding of it. She also served as Lector and Eucharist Minister to the sick. Bobbie and Jim received the national St. Francis Peace Award in 2010.
She was a good listener and often shared words of comfort and insight with family and friends.
Grandma to James, Katherine, Megan, Davey, Madeleine, Parker and Ryan, she created scrapbooks for each of them with their life in photos. “Even as old as they are now, they still love to pull it out when they visit and look through it,” she had recently told her sister-in-law, Peggy. Bobbie’s peaceful and humble demeanor, together with her ability to thoroughly enjoy the humorous side of our shared human behavior, call all who knew her to celebrate the blessing it was to have had her in our lives.
Bobbie was active in St. William the Abbott Parish in Seaford, where her Mass was celebrated Monday, April 2, 2012, at 10 a.m. Franciscan priest Father Matthias ended his homily with a personal sharing: “She was a friend, a mentor and sometimes a therapist.” Interment followed at Calverton National Cemetery.
Donations in her memory may be sent to The Pat Cairo Family Foundation Inc., 40 Parkwold Drive West, North Valley Stream, NY 11580 or any Franciscan work or facility. The Pat Cairo Foundation supports Calvary Hospital acute care for terminally ill cancer patients. Bobbie spent her last days in this world at Calvary.
This is a paid notice.