PARADE GRAND MARSHAL
Robert "Bobby" O'Neill
Robert was born in Newport, Rhode Island on December 20, 1939 to Robert & Jennie (Ripa) O’Neill. “Bobby”, as he was known, grew up on Dearborn Street, which at the time was an Italian neighborhood. This was a great upbringing for a little redhead with Italian relatives. He used to hang around the Newport wharves, The Hut, Murphy Field and uptown at Sam’s Ice Cream shop; where he made many friends. Through his early years he held many jobs: paper boy, shoe shine boy, usher, pin setter, lobstering, Jamestown Ferry deckhand, Newport Beach alley boy, laborer, carpenter and printer at City Hall. His early education was at Lenthal, Carey and John Clarke schools. From there he went to Rogers High School where he graduated class of 1959.
Bobby attended Roger Williams Junior College studying electromechanical engineering. There he met his future wife Jeannette Dupere. In 1964 he married Jeannette in St. Mary’s Church with Fr. George McCarthy officiating. Together they had three daughters, Kristine, Kelly and Kathlene. In 1965 he went to work at Raytheon as a print machine operator and was later promoted to a technical writer. He began working for the U.S. Postal Service in 1970 as a clerk/carrier and held many positions before retiring in 2001. It was at the post office that he obtained the nickname “Rooster”. Between his red hair and the red face he would get when arguing with management while representing the American Postal Workers Union local as president, his co-workers would say “There goes the rooster crowing again!”
In addition to being involved with the local APWU, Bobby was the State president of the organization, volunteered with the Newport County Mental Health outreach program, has been a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus #256 Middletown, is Vice-President of the Island Cemetery and a member of Montaup Country Club. In 1966, Robert joined the Dennis E. Collins division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He helped out with many events and duties over the years as needed. For the last 15 years has been on the Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee. Every year he pounds the pavement going door to door to businesses asking for donations to keep the parade going. He most recently was nominated and elected to the position of Vice-President of the State of RI Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Upon retiring in 2001, he worked with Jeannette at their deli, Mrs. O’s Kitchen, on Broadway until they sold the business in 2003. These days you can find Bobby working at Memorial Funeral Home as a Funeral Assistant, golfing, selling 50/50 tickets at the hall or spending time with his family and friends; especially his four grandchildren: Erica, Simone, Douglas and Tara.
About This Year’s Button:
Our yearly button designs try to incorporate the vocation or interests of our Grand Marshal for that year. For the 2014 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade our Grand Marshal is Robert O'Neill. This year’s button makes use of a number of important emblems from Bobby's life; the Rhode Island Red Rooster and the emblem of the United States Postal Service. The RI Red is a nod to his nick-name, "Rooster" given to him because of the red hair he had in youth, and the Postal Service device is in reference to his many faithful years of service
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