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Lawrence Patrick O'Neil

December 27, 1937 — June 21, 2024

Bakersfield

Lawrence Patrick O'Neil

Lawrence Patrick O’Neil

December 27, 1937 – June 21, 2024

Lawrence Patrick “Pat” O’Neil, 86, passed away in Bakersfield, California on June 21, 2024. Pat was born to Frank and Blanche O'Neil in San Fernando, California on December 27, 1937. As the second youngest of seven children, Pat knew what it was like to be part of a large catholic family, and all the camaraderie and chaos that came along with that. He would later recreate that dynamic when he started his own family with his wife Diana.

As a boy, Pat was curious and adventurous. Growing up in San Fernando, he loved to go exploring with his younger brother, Mike. He talked of how they would ride their bikes through the neighborhood surrounding their home on the corner of 4th and Jessie Streets, passing by familiar local landmarks until reaching the outer boundaries of where they were allowed to venture. Their house was on a large lot with room for animals and Pat and his siblings enjoyed playing with the prized goats their father raised. He fondly recalled family outings to San Fernando Mission Park where his mother would pack a picnic lunch and his father would barbeque hamburgers and hot dogs for the kids. Pat was a lifelong film buff and he enjoyed telling the story of how his mother would take them to visit his mother’s good friend who worked as a personal secretary for Viola Dana, the silent film actress. As a child, Pat saw the world with adventurous eyes, and that childlike curiosity never seemed to leave him.

Pat’s school years were spent at St. Ferdinand’s School in San Fernando until age twelve, when his father, who worked as an electrician for Richfield Oil, moved the family to Bakersfield. Pat attended Garces High School for 7th through 12th grades, graduating in 1955 at the age of seventeen. Throughout his school years, Pat loved learning new things. His wife, Diana, used to marvel that her husband seemed to know the answer to any question posed to him, whether it be about history, sports, cars, or the mystery of how technology worked. Pat was a lifelong baseball fan. He loved playing it as a kid and cherished the memory of attending a Dodger game at the LA Coliseum with his dad, back in the days when Dodger Stadium was still under construction. Pat’s natural curiosity and desire to learn new things inspired him to seek out skills that served him well throughout his life. At Garces, he was the only male in his typing class, where he taught his fingers to fly at nearly one hundred words per minute. 

After high school, Pat joined the U.S. Air Force. He attended basic training at Parks Air Force Base in California and then put his stellar typing skills to work, training as a teletype operator at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Following his technical training, he was stationed at Wheeler Field in Hawaii. He would laughingly recount his arrival in balmy Hawaii, exiting the plane still wearing his winter parka from the freezing Wyoming winter he had just left. He remembered being shocked at the sight of large craters in the walls of several buildings, scars that remained from the Japanese bombing attack that had occurred fourteen years earlier. Pat enjoyed his time in the service and in Hawaii. His older brother Jack had been stationed there in the navy during World War II and had given him names of local people to visit whenever he wanted a home-cooked meal. Since food was always near and dear to Pat’s heart, he greatly appreciated this.

After his discharge from the Air Force in 1959, Pat obtained a position with Western Union which, at that time, in addition to sending telegrams and wire transfers, was employing a new type of teletyping service called Telex, an early type of text communication system. His training in teletype made him ideally suited to this position. He traveled to various locations throughout the western states helping them to establish new offices before being permanently transferred to the Bakersfield office to work as night manager. 

Pat met his wife, Diana at a Catholic social club event and was instantly smitten. They were married at St. Francis Church in Bakersfield on December 28, 1963. In his wedding photo, Pat is smiling from ear to ear and he always commented that he looked like the happiest man alive in the picture because he truly was. Pat and Diana went on to raise eight children, sending them all to St. Francis and Garces, where Pat worked many a bingo game. Pat embraced marriage and fatherhood. He loved working on projects around the house, barbequing in the backyard, and playing with his kids. He was the kind of dad who would never miss his kids’ games or activities, who got down on the ground to play with them. On any given Sunday, after church was over, you could find him yelling at football games with the TV muted and clipping coupons from the Sunday paper. 

In 1978, Pat switched career paths, beginning his employment with the County of Kern as a computer programmer. It was in the early days of huge, mainframe computers and Pat embraced the new technology. He loved the challenge of learning the different programming languages and solving the problems and challenges inherent in the job. Over the years, Pat moved steadily up the ranks, finishing his 38-year career as a systems programmer and managing to stave off retirement until the ripe old age of 77. 

Despite his reluctance to call quits on his working life, Pat discovered that he actually did enjoy retirement. He and Diana fell into a happy and steady routine of dinners out, caring for their many cats, and being on grandparent duty whenever needed. Diana was the love of Pat’s life for over 57 years and even after her death on September 10, 2021, she was always on his mind and in his heart. Despite his 86 years, and notwithstanding the wonderful way he embraced his roles as husband and father, Pat was always a kid at heart. He was a happy, friendly, and fun-loving person who always seemed to be smiling and laughing. Although his family will miss him terribly, they take comfort in knowing he is back, hand in hand, with his Diana.

Pat is survived by his eight children and their spouses: Larry (Lori) Kayes of Bakersfield; Teresa (Derrick) Hu of Ridgecrest; Joseph O’Neil of Bakersfield; Anna (Shawn) Wilder of Bakersfield; Bernadette (Joel) Helms of Ridgecrest; Christina (Mike) Watts of Chico; Francis O’Neil of Bakersfield; and Peter (Tristan) O’Neil of Bakersfield. He is also survived by seventeen grandchildren: Chris, Alyce, and Grant Kayes; Brandon and Nicole Hu; Cody Dustin, and Lane Wilder; Zachary, Sadie, and Jacob Brunstedt; McKeever, Brennan, and Nolan Watts; and Lauren, Nick, and Grace O’Neil, and great-grandchildren Conor and Owen Wilder. Pat is also survived by three sisters: Marie Simonich and Frances Adams of Bakersfield, and Clare Callagher of Shingle Springs. Pat was preceded in death by his wife, Diana O’Neil; his parents, Frank and Blanche O’Neil; his sister, Barbara Torbohn; two brothers: Jack and Mike O’Neil, and his granddaughter, Jenny Kayes.

The Rosary will be held at 9:30am on Monday, July 15, 2024 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 900 H Street. The Mass of Christian Burial will begin directly after the rosary at 10am, with burial to follow at Union Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to St. Jude or The Cat People.

 

 

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Past Services

Prayer Service

Monday, July 15, 2024

9:30 - 10:00 am (Pacific time)

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

900 H Street, Bakersfield, CA 93304

Rosary

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Mass

Monday, July 15, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Pacific time)

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

900 H Street, Bakersfield, CA 93304

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Burial

Monday, July 15, 2024

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Pacific time)

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