Kevin O’Neill, who was widely known in the Sonoma Valley for both his longtime stature as a mortgage loan officer and his philanthropy, died Nov. 14 of complications resulting from a blood clot. He was 68 years old.
According to Dawn O’Neill, his wife of 25 years, the couple were walking through Sacramento early last week when they started having trouble speaking. Dawn immediately went to the nearest hospital, where doctors discovered Kevin had had a blood clot and was in the midst of a severe stroke. He died peacefully in hospital a few days later.
Dawn said their last words in the car were about their life together.
“He turned to me and told me how much he loved the life we had built together and our daughters,” she said. “Besides, he just couldn’t speak.”
The O’Neills have twin daughters, Piper and Katie, 16, who attend Justin-Siena High School in Napa.
In several Facebook posts since his death, Kevin is described by his real estate friends and colleagues as an industry legend. Most recently, he was Regional Sales Manager and Senior Loan Advisor at Bay Equity Home Loans.
During his 30-year career in real estate finance, Kevin has held leadership positions such as Stearns Lending, HomeStreet Bank, Provident Bank Mortgage, Met Life Home Loans and Bank of American. He began his career in finance at Washington Mutual Bank in San Francisco, where he worked for 17 years. Dawn said that for many years at Washington Mutual and American Savings, he was the best loan officer in the country for these companies.
Kevin O’Neill was born April 4, 1950 in Philadelphia and raised in Saratoga, California. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, he was a basketball star at Belmont High School. After college, he joined the Marine Corps. and then worked as a thug on an oil rig in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In his thirties, he moved to Sonoma where his parents, Bernard and Janet O’Neill lived on Napa Road. He joined American Savings as a local officer, where he worked for his father.
Kevin and Dawn met in 1987 in Sonoma and Dawn said it was love at first sight. He was her loan officer on a property she owned in Boyes Hot Springs.
“On our second date, he told me he wanted to marry me,” she said. “It was instant love.”
She described him as “such a sweet and loving person” who was also intensely private and exceptionally devoted to his daughters.
“He turned down countless invitations to socialize because he said all he really wanted to do after work was hang out with the girls and with me,” she said. “He loved them more than anything in the world. “
Widely known in Sonoma for his philanthropy, Kevin was a long-time supporter of the Presentation School, the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, of which he was a board member and honored as its ” Honey ”in 2006.
“The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin O’Neill,” said Cary Dacy, CEO. “He has been a champion of BGCSV for over 30 years and his dedication and generosity has changed the lives of so many young people in Sonoma Valley. We are eternally grateful to him not only for his support, but also for his friendship. He left his mark on our club and his memory and legacy will live on in our hearts and in our organization for years to come.
Amy Harrington, a member of Sonoma City Council, considered Kevin a close friend and said he was one of the first people she met when she moved to Sonoma ten years ago.
“He was immediately sympathetic,” she said. “He was down to earth and loved to have fun. He loved history, politics and work and above all he loved his family. It’s hard to believe he’s gone.
Kevin’s best friend David Ashburn said Kevin believes in life to the fullest.
“His friends and those who knew him well appreciated his thirst for life and his enthusiasm,” said Ashburn. “He loved his family with all his heart, especially his wife and two daughters whom he cherished. Kevin will be missed but he will not be forgotten by any of us who knew him.
Kevin is survived by Dawn, Piper, Katie and her three siblings, Brian, Breck and Janet O’Neill.
Friends are invited to attend a memorial mass in his honor at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 30, at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, 601 Agua Caliente Road. There will be a celebration of life after the service. The location remains to be determined,
Donations can be made to the Piper and Katie O’Neill College Fund c / o Exchange Bank, 435 West Napa St., Sonoma, CA 95476.
Email Lorna at [email protected].