Obituary of Mary J. O'Neill Thomas
Mary J. O’Neill Thomas (08/15/1926) passed away on February 15, 2021 at the age of 94y. She was an amazing,
strong, loving, mother, wife, aunt, sister, daughter and friend. She was born at Renard Point,
Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry, Ireland, in her childhood home next to the sea. She attended the local town
school and then Drishane Convent school in Cork followed by nurse’s training at Lambeth Hospital in
London and later in Dublin. She moved to a cousin’s home in Massachusetts in 1955 and eventually
became the head nurse at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Later, she received a full
scholarship to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where she met her lifelong friend, Phyllis
Eggert. After completing their undergraduate degrees, she and Phyllis moved to California to complete a
master’s in nursing at UCSF.
She met her husband Donald Thomas in South San Francisco in 1966 through the Catholic Graduates
club. They married on July 29, 1967 at St. John of God in San Francisco and they have had a long and
happy marriage travelling frequently to Ireland, entertaining friends and hosting large Thanksgiving
dinners. She was the love of Don’s life and they were rarely separated for 54 years.
Mary worked for many years at the Palo Alto VA Hospital and felt that that working in psychiatric
nursing was a gift that could restore a patient’s ability to face the world. She valued Catholicism, social
justice, and education. She worked tirelessly for St. Nicholas Catholic Church, for the homeless shelter
and with the Irish community as well as drilling into her children the value of science, art, music and Irish
Mary was a US citizen, but considered Ireland to be her home. She loved her hometown of Cahersiveen
and despite the distance, made relatives part of her daily conversation to ensure closeness. She spoke
frequently to her family in Ireland, England, and South Africa as well as friends far and wide. Don tried to
curtail her conversation by posting the cost of each minute of international calls next to the phone, but
she ignored it and kept on talking.
She is survived by her loving husband of 53 years, Donald, her children, Sheila Allworth and her husband
Jeff, Kerry Kingham and her husband Erik, her grandchildren, Morgan, Hagan, Kaelin and Ciara, her
brother, Br. Joseph O’Neill (Dublin, Ireland), her niece Geraldine Stack (Tralee, Ireland), husband Tom
and son Eoin, and her nephew Edward O’Neill (Killarney, Ireland) wife Frances and children Ellen and
Fionn. She was preceded in death by her brother Ted O’Neill and sister in law Maureen, her sister Bride
Roper and brother in law Bill, her mother Ellen O’Neill and her father Edward “Edzie” O’Neill.