In Memoriam: Don O’Neill

Title: In Memoriam: Don O’Neill
Publication: The Outcrop, March 2004, p. 22

The RMAG Trio of Don O’Neill, piano, Don Stone, drums, and Gene Shearer, guitar, (plus one, or two, or three) has been providing music for a variety of RMAG/RMAGA functions for almost forty years. Shell Oil Company did Stone and Shearer a favor when they “transferred” petroleum engineer O’Neill to Denver in the middle 1960s. You “older” skiers may remember the Trio’s music at RMAG après ski capers at the El Rancho. Cocktail music at the Rockbusters Ball has been provided since its inception and AAPG hospitality rooms have offered the Trio’s repertoire, and jam sessions here and there have been many. Don O’Neill passed away on May 25, 2003, after a long battle with emphysema and complications thereof. Now the RMAG Trio is a trio minus one.

Don was born on September 19, 1923, and grew up in Santa Monica, California. He interrupted his education at Stanford for two years of service in the United States Army Signal Corps, and attained a Masters degree in petroleum geology at Stanford in 1948.

Along with his “formal” education, Don learned to play the piano starting at the age of seven. He was gifted with the ability to listen to music on the radio or a record or played by his teacher, and then duplicate the music on the piano.

Don married Betty Wellington in December of 1948 in San Francisco. The O’Neill family includes son Don II, daughters Lori and Mary, plus four grandchildren.

Shell Oil Company moved the O’Neill family frequently, to addresses in southern California, Franklin on the Bayou Teche, Louisiana, New Orleans, New York, The Hague, Netherlands, and Denver. Don also worked for Buttes Resources in Denver and Houston. He was a member of the RMAG, Society for Petroleum Evaluation Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Denver Petroleum Club, Rocky Mountain Stanford Club, Denver Jazz Club, and the Musicians Union.

Don leaves many friends in the petroleum and musical industries. Among RMAG/RMAGA members, he will always be remembered for his untiring willingness to share his talents at the piano over forty years of Association functions.