Bill was born William Edward O’Neal, on June 18, 1933 in
County, Kentucky, to William Allen O’Neal and Ruth Amy Crauswell.
Allen, as he was known, was a coal miner who followed mining work from
their North Alabama home where he and Amy were married in 1920. They moved into
the Hazard, Kentucky area, some time prior to the birth of their first child,
Dixie Monroe O’Neal, who was born in 1926 in Bellcraft, Letcher County, KY.
The birth of their second child, Mary Jo, followed in December 1927, in
Whitesburg, where she died in April of 1930, and she is buried there.
and Amy separated shortly after the birth of their third child, Bill, in 1933
and she, with her two sons, returned to her home area in North Alabama where her
parents lived. Times were hard in the 30’s and 40’s and Amy struggled to
make a living for her and her two sons. Amy’s
mother and step-father, Virginia and Frank Williams, had left Cordova, AL around
1940 and moved to Columbus, Georgia in hopes of getting a job at one of the many
textile mills located there.
soon convinced Amy to come to Columbus with her sons since she had found a job
for Amy working as a housekeeper in a boarding house next door.
The job paid little money but would include room and board for her and
the boys. In January 1941, Amy and
her sons, Dixie and Bill, moved to Columbus where she took the job at the
boarding house. After a few months,
she was able to get a job at one of the local textile mills and she rented a
house into which she and her two sons moved.
family lived in several rented houses until July 1946 when they were able to
purchase a small 4 room home in the northern end of Columbus in an area known as
Beallwood. Dixie was drafted into the Army in 1942, which left Amy and Bill on
their own. Soon after moving to Beallwood, Bill became acquainted with another
youngster his own age, just down the street from where they lived. His name was
Douglas Whitley and they became best friends and attended school together at
Baker Village High School. Doug had
a younger sister named Emily, and that was how it all began.
Barbara Whitley was born to Leonard Eugene Whitley and Katie Mae Brown, on
September 12, 1934, in Butler, Taylor County, Georgia. The family moved from
Butler to Columbus when Emily was 8. Her father worked at Fort Benning for a
short time, and eventually went to work for John A. Pope Motor Company in
Columbus as a mechanic. He was employed there until he had to retire for health
reasons about 1952. Emily had 5 siblings, Douglas and Scott who were born in
Butler, and Angela, Martha and Richard (Ricky), who were all born in Columbus.
and Emily became close friends, even at that young age, and when they became old
enough they started dating regularly, although both did date others during those
teenage years. Bill graduated from
high school in 1950 and went to work at Radio Sales & Service Co. in
Columbus. Emily went to work for Columbus Office Supply while a senior in high
school and continued for a while following her graduation in June 1952.
Bill had already asked Emily to marry him before she finished school and
a few days after her graduation, they were married on June 20, 1952.
were blessed with the birth of their first child, a son, Michael David O’Neal,
on July 17, 1953 in Columbus, GA. Bill had gone to work in 1956 with another
electronics supply house in Opelika, AL and the family moved there that year.
Their second blessed event came on March 8, 1958 with the birth of their second
child, another son, Philip Gregory O’Neal, while they were living in Opelika.
Bill worked for this company for several years, including a few years in
their Atlanta area store, before returning to his former employer, Radio Sales
& Service Co. in Columbus in early 1961. Bill and Emily’s third blessed
event came on June 11, 1962 with the birth of a third child, another son,
William Christopher O’Neal, who was born in Columbus, GA.
In October 1963, Bill changed jobs and went to work for Western Union in Columbus as a maintenance technician-trainee. The family lived in several cities where Bill’s job took him during his first years with Western Union, until he was awarded an apprentice position as Computer Center Technician at the Albany, GA Autodin Center, a Western Union contract service with the U.S. Department of Defense. He remained there for the next 22 years, retiring in October 1988, with exactly 25 years of service. Emily had gone to work in 1973 as a Rural Mail Carrier with the U.S. Postal Service in Sylvester, GA, and she retired in 1994 with 21 years of service. Upon her retirement, Bill and Emily sold their property in Worth County and purchased property in the Rome, GA area, where they remain to this day, March 2004. They are enjoying retirement, pursuing their hobbies and traveling. They have several grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.