Cover photo for Robert O'Neil's Obituary
Robert O'Neil Profile Photo

Robert O'Neil

August 11, 1928 — October 22, 2021

Dr. Robert (Bob) M. O’Neil, Emeritus Professor of English at California State University, Fresno and in retirement a resident again of his native Kalispell and Lakeside, died peacefully on October 22 at the age of 93.

Bob O’Neil, a mountain of a man, spent his retirement in the Kalispell area in ways that furthered his interests in history, land preservation and community service. He provided important support as a very active volunteer with the Northwest Montana History Museum in Kalispell, as well as doing volunteer work for the Flathead Land Trust and the Flathead Valley Food Bank. Continuing his academic involvement, Dr. O’Neil generously sponsored and judged The Ted Crail and Della Ve Carr Poetry Contest for local high school students. Nor did Bob neglect the literary needs of older writers, as he held small classes in memoir writing for residents of the Buffalo Hill Terrace retirement community in Kalispell. Bob was a gung ho gardener and a passionate fan of classical music. He especially enjoyed attending concerts performed by the Glacier Symphony.

Bob is survived by his wife, Barbara (Bobbie) Louise Wilson Truckner, whom he married in Kalispell on July 20, 2003. Both had been previously married to spouses who had died.

Dr. O’Neil is survived by his daughter, Anita O’Neil, of Wauwatosa, WI, and his son, Sean O’Neil, of Pico Rivera, CA, as well as Maeve Kaufman, his granddaughter.  Survivors also include Sean’s spouse, Cesar Martinez, and Anita’s husband, John Kaufman.

Other surviving members of the Truckner family are Bobbie’s daughters, Jeannette Pisk and Karen Marshall, both of Kalispell, as well as Bobbie’s son David Truckner of Williston, ND. Their spouses are, respectively, Chuck Pisk, Randy Marshall and Jeri Truckner. Bob was fortunate to have lots of grandchildren on the Truckner side of the family: Elizabeth, Kayla, Rachel, Heather, Jaclynn, Mallory, Jackson, Truman, Kordell, Jenna and Landon. Furthermore, there are eleven great-grandchildren in the Truckner family.

Karin Gudrin Friedrich, of Cologne, Germany, whom Bob met and married while serving in the U.S. Army in Germany, died tragically early of cancer in Fresno in 1994.

Bob’s sister, Kathryn Farrington of Kalispell, also died too young of cancer.

Bob’s parents were Byron and Mabel O’Neil. They owned and operated the O’Neil Printers in Kalispell and bought land and built a modest second house on Flathead Lake that the O’Neil family enjoyed for decades until Bob, upon his retirement, had it burnt to the ground (with help from the fire department) and then arranged for the building of a new house on the same exceedingly scenic spot on Hughes Bay. There Dr. O’Neil retired in comfort, surrounded by all the books, art and music CDs he and Karin had accumulated over the years. Once they married, Bob and Bobbie lived primarily at Bobbie’s house in Kalispell.

Robert O’Neil was born in Kalispell on August 11, 1928 and graduated from Kalispell High School in 1946. Upon graduating from high school, Bob attended the University of Montana at Missoula.  When he wasn’t in a classroom, some of Bob’s best moments as a young man were spent tramping over the mountains of Western Montana doing work for the U.S. Forest Service. This rugged experience instilled in him a love of hiking and nature in general, which he continued to pursue in the Sierra Nevada Range east of Fresno and back home in retirement with his wife, Bobbie, in Glacier National Park.

After his military service, Bob completed his Ph.D. in English at the University of Washington at Seattle before accepting a teaching position at California State University at Fresno, CA.  He taught at Cal State Fresno for 35 years and was awarded the title of Emeritus for distinguished service to the university and his students.

No public services or memorials will be held, but the families encourage donations in honor of Dr. O’Neil’s life and service to the Northwest Montana History Museum in Kalispell or any environmental or educational charity of your choice. Friends are encouraged to visit our website at to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory caring for the family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert O'Neil, please visit our flower store.


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