Peter M. O'Neill

Peter Michael O’Neill (1946-2022) passed away peacefully on October 25th after a valiant, graceful struggle with Parkinson’s disease.  Recognized by his warm smile and kind heart, Peter was also known for his attentiveness, moral compass and sense of humor.  While battling a relentlessly debilitating disease in his final years, Peter continued to practice law, play golf, watch the Yankees and the Giants (with great vigor!), share book recommendations and craft a steady stream of jokes until the end.

Peter was born in Summit, New Jersey on November 22, 1946 to the late Peter E. O’Neill, a decorated World War II veteran, and Patricia O’Neill.  He and his sister, Tina O’Neill Finn, grew up in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey and he graduated from Mountain Lakes High School in 1964, where he lettered in basketball and track

From Mountain Lakes, Peter went on to central New York to attend Colgate University where he ran track earning letters each year along with the “All-East” accolade.   The hills of Colgate were never far from Peter’s heart, as he organized countless events and reunions, including chairing his 50th reunion committee.  At the time of his death Peter was a member of the Colgate Alumni Council and nominated for another term.

As he wrote in the 50th reunion book “Tapestry”: “My life changed on June 8, 1968, when just two weeks after graduating from Colgate, I      met my future wife, Anne…I was as single and unattached as you could be, when Jeff LaCour a fellow Fiji asked me to go to a house around the corner and pick up a lifeguard he worked with who would not attend his party alone.  Rang the doorbell, and Anne walked into my life.”

With his characteristic sense of purpose, he headed to Boston University School of Law while Anne went to the western part of Massachusetts as a freshman at Smith College.  Two months after Peter’s graduation from law school in June 1971, he and Anne married on August 28th, surrounded by friends and their families. 

After a stint in the Essex County Prosecutor’s office in Newark trying criminal cases on behalf of the State, Peter joined a small firm in Newark.  Then one enlightened day after several years of coming home to Princeton and finding his children asleep, he decided to take his legal skills to Princeton – and with any luck be home for dinner with his family.  He established a well-respected and busy law practice on Nassau Street, representing individuals and businesses in a variety of transactional and litigation matters.  At the time of his death, Peter was with the law firm of Stevens & Lee, in Lawrenceville.

In addition to his passions for Colgate, law and his family, Peter embraced golf after the semi-retirement of his tennis racquet.  He was a member of The Bedens Brook Club, where he was a past president, and TPC Jasna Polana, where he was on the Board of Governors.  Peter and Anne shared this love of golf together playing numerous courses across the US and abroad with various friends and family members.  On September 22, 1998, at Tullyhogue, the mystical site in County Tyrone, of the O’Neill clan, Peter was crowned Chieftain.   Ireland and his passion for golf would be forever linked.

He is survived by his wife, Anne; his three children, Katie O’Neill Burgener of Boston, MA; Sarah O’Neill Kreter of Londonderry, NH; and Michael Sean O’Neill of Bloomfield, NJ; their spouses Phil Burgener, Justin Kreter and Brittany Trevenen O’Neill; and his six grandchildren, Annabel, Eloise, Cody, Gunnar, Abigail and Elizabeth.  Peter is also survived by his sister, Tina, his niece, Christen and a legion of loving Conley family relatives (Anne is one of 11 siblings).

Peter relished connecting with friends and family near and far, playing amateur deejay, dancing with Anne whether in the living room or on a wedding dance floor, traveling with friends and family, cooking and grilling, devouring non-fiction and fiction alike, along with reading anything to his grandchildren.   And being a grateful citizen of the Princeton community for over 50 years.

In honor of Peter’s life-long pursuit of strength in both mind and body,  donations in his memory can be made to Colgate University or Princeton Medical Center Foundation.