Commander and committed Christian

Leading the men of the 8th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment combined honour, duty and responsibility for Colonel Keith O'Neill, not just during its tour of operations in Vietnam in 1969-70 but until his final days.

Despite the torrential rain in Sydney on the past two Anzac Day marches, a steadfast determination propelled O'Neill to pre-dawn services and later to march through sodden Sydney streets, honouring bonds forged in conflict.

In his 85th year, O'Neill was particularly proud of the fact that he was the last of his contemporaries to march, twice refusing a ride in a Jeep over hilly parts of the parade route.

O'Neill began his post-army career with the Knights of the Southern Cross, which provided a framework for serving others. This spearheaded his work for the Australian bishops and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, from which he retired as chief executive officer in 1997.

O'Neill had many friends and he never shied away from a robust discussion about politics, morality, philosophy, religion, food, wine or life in general.

Lisa and Keith O'Neill were committed to their local parish of St Canice's for nearly 40 years, particularly to work with the poor and homeless around King's Cross.

O'Neill was a man of enormous Christian faith, despite seeing many instances that would cause a person to question that faith, including the sudden deaths of two of his daughters: Mary, 32, from an aneurism in 1987 and Liz, 37, in a plane crash in Indonesia in 2007.

Keith O'Neill is survived by Lisa, sister Rita, children Frank, Tim and Kate and grandchildren Sam, Alice and Lucinda.

FULL OBITUARY: Commander and committed Christian (Sydney Morning Herald)


Vale Keith O'Neil DSO (True Catholic)

Liz O'Neill Street (ACT Govt)

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