BELLEVILLE — Former St. Clair County Sheriff and Illinois Lt. Gov. David C. O'Neal, who also served in positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, has died.
O'Neal died at his Las Vegas home July 10 following an extended illness, according to an obituary on the Kraft-Sussman Funeral & Cremation Services website. He was 84.
O'Neal was born Jan. 24, 1937, in Belleville. After attending McKendree College, O'Neal joined the United States Marine Corps and ultimately was honorably discharged as a corporal.
He later graduated from St Louis College of Pharmacy in 1962 and owned and operated two pharmacies in Belleville. He was elected St Clair County Sheriff in 1970 and eventually re-elected to a second term as sheriff.
In 1976, O'Neal ran for the office of Lieutenant Governor of Illinois and served with Gov. Jim Thompson during a two-year term. The duo was re-elected to a four-year term in 1978, and O'Neal later ran for the U.S. Senate as the Republican candidate from Illinois. Despite the backing of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, O'Neal lost the race to Alan Dixon.
O'Neal resigned as the Lieutenant Governor position and went on to work in the private sector before Reagan invited him to Washington, D.C., as acting deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management. Reagan then requested O'Neal be considered for the position of Assistant Secretary of Labor.
After Senate confirmation, he served in the position to the end of Reagan's term in 1988.
President George H.W. Bush then asked O'Neal to serve as Assistant Secretary of Interior, Land and Minerals Management. Additional accomplishments include being a Lincoln Scholar and president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
Survivors include O'Neal's wife of 32 years, Lonna McKenna; daughters, Allison O'Neal of Phoenix and Kelly Van Dinther (Michael) of Sugar Grove, Illinois; grandchildren, Chris and Kate; step-daughter, Stacey McKenna (Mike Spasev) of Fort Collins, Colorado; and many friends. He was preceded in death by his brother, Robert O'Neal, and his sister, Elizabeth (Betty) Haskins.
Honoring Dave O'Neal's wishes, there will be no services.