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James O'Neill, Co-Founder Of 9/11 Memorial In Carmel, Dies At 59

James J. O’Neill
James J. O’Neill Photo Credit: Balsamo-Cordovano Funeral Home

EAST FISHKILL, N.Y. – James J. O’Neill, of East Fishkill, died suddenly on Sunday, July 17. He was 59.

Born March 28, 1957, and raised in the Bronx, he was a graduate of Visitation School and Cardinal Hayes High School. He joined the N.Y. Police Department on Nov. 17, 1979, and rose to the rank of sergeant supervisor, detective squad, before retiring on Nov. 30, 1999. He was a member of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s protective detail until retiring in 2000.

He lived a life dedicated to service. He was a founding member of the New York Shields, an organization that coined the motto, “Cops for Cops.”

After 9/11, he sought to bring personal remembrance to his adopted home in Carmel. He and his band of brothers erected a memorial to the NYPD members of Putnam County who lost their lives that day. Each year since, he had coordinated the memorial remembrance. He renamed the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 704 to the Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge.

He leaves a legacy through the many organizations, business partners and friendships that he fostered throughout his life.

He is survived by his wife, Kathy (Skehill) O’Neill; his son, James F. O’Neill; and is also survived by Billy, Peach, Mango and Molly; four sisters, Maureen (Walter) Watson, Kathy Weyhrauch, Patty (Mike) McDonald and Lee (Ralph) Geosits.

He was the son of the late James A. O’Neill and Eileen (Gregory) O’Neill-Feeney.

“The men and women of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Correctional Facility mourn the death of James O’Neill and we extend our deepest condolences to his wife Kathy, his son James Jr., and the entire O’Neill family,” said Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith.

The Kent Police Department echoed Smith’s statements. “The Law Enforcement Community in the Hudson Valley suffered a huge loss yesterday. Jimmy O'Neill was retired NYPD and our local FOP president. Anyone who met Jimmy knew what a great guy he was, he was truly an amazing person. Our thoughts and prayers are with the O'Neill family during this time.”

Visitation will take place on Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. as well as Thursday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Balsamo-Cordovano Funeral Home, 15 Church St., Carmel. A funeral service will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. at St. James the Apostle Church, 14 Gleneida Ave., Carmel.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to any of the following organizations: BVM Visitation School Scholarship, St. James the Apostle Roman Catholic Church School Scholarship, Putnam Humane Society, NY Shields or the Putnam County FOP.

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