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O'NEILL, Jack (John), C.M.



1925 – 2023


Late afternoon on a clear and beautiful fall day, with his favourite colours of nature on full display, Jack (John) Stafford O’Neill passed away peacefully at the age of 98 with his family by his side, on September 19, 2023.


Jack will be forever missed by his wife, Mary (née Paterson); their children, Tim (Katherine) and Jacqueline (Peter); and their grandchildren, Lauren, Jack, and Sullivan; as well as his sister, Sr. Clare C.N.D.; in-laws, Tim and Peggy Paterson; and a large community of family and friends.


Jack was predeceased by his parents, Stafford and Jean; and siblings, Paul, Barbara, and Brian.


Jack led a full and accomplished life. Through 48 years of marriage, he and Mary shared deep respect and a remarkable love. She cared for him selflessly until his final day.


Born in Toronto in 1925 and raised in Depression era Montreal, he played hockey and leather helmet football. After joining the Jesuits in 1943, he worked with communities in Canada and around the world, including in service to the poor in India and the mentally disabled in France. He held several undergraduate and master’s degrees.


He later settled “out west,” becoming the Director of the Alberta Heart and Stroke Foundation in Calgary before moving to Edmonton to work with then Premier Peter Lougheed. His roles included Deputy Minister of Culture and Multiculturalism, during which time he and colleagues oversaw the development of world-renowned projects including the Royal Tyrrell Museum and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. His last role was Chief Commissioner of the Alberta Human Rights Commission.


During his lifetime he received numerous awards and citations for his commitment to public service and humankind. He was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2001.

Jack was always described as a true gentleman. A proud orator, he had great appreciation for the well written and spoken word. His love for nature and the outdoors inspired many trips to the mountains and long drives in the countryside. His final years were spent happily admiring and sharing time – and sweets – with his young grandchildren.


His heroes in life were those who help the sick, the poor, and the disabled. He leaves behind a legacy of kindness, empathy, and acceptance of all.


A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, September 29 at 11:00 am in St. Albert Catholic Parish, 7 St. Vital Avenue, St. Albert, Alberta.


In lieu of flowers, his family asks you to remember your local food bank.


To send condolences, please visit


Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home

St. Albert Chapel

(780) 458-2222

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