Karin H. O’Neil, Former Faculty

Karin H. O’Neil, age 76 of Columbus, OH, passed away at her residence, Friendship Village Columbus, on April 25, 2018. She was born on January 2, 1942 to Dr. Charles E. and Roberta W. Holzer in Cincinnati, OH. Karin grew up in Gallipolis, OH, graduated from Stuart Hall School in Virginia in 1960, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Mount Holyoke College in 1964 in Massachusetts, received her Masters Degree in History from the University of Massachusetts in 1967 and her CAGS in Education from University of Massachusetts in 1969. After her schooling Karin became a 5th grade public school teacher in the Palmer Schools in Massachusetts. From 1967 to 1971 she taught at Northampton Schools for Girls as a history teacher and a dorm parent, then went to Williston Northampton School and taught history. She became the department head in history and was made co-director of the middle school. She was appointed Academic Dean of the Upper School and went on to become Associate Head of School. She retired from Williston Northampton School in 2001 to move to Ohio to become the Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Independent Schools from which she retired in 2011. Prior to retiring she conducted many national workshops and trainings for the National Association of Independent Schools and was an Independent Educational Consultant. She was an active member of the League of Women Voters for over 50 years and involved in various choral groups and supported the arts throughout her life. Along with her mother, Karin is survived by her loving husband of 53 years Dennis O’Neil, son David A O’Neil ’83, grandchildren Erin and Ryan and their mother Carol Lynne O’Neil, siblings Dr. Charles E. (Jean) Holzer, III, John W. (Ann) Holzer, Christiana H. Gallant, Amy H. (Dudley) Irvin ’78, many beloved nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues. Along with her father, she is preceded in death by nephew Nathan H. Gallant.

42 thoughts on “Karin H. O’Neil, Former Faculty”

  1. I’m so sorry to hear of this. Karin was co-director of the middle school when I came there as a student, and she moved up to be Dean of the upper school as I also came into the upper school. She was always helpful, intelligent, warm, and kind, and she had a lovely smile. May her memory be a blessing.

  2. This is very sad. Karin was a remarkable woman and educator and an important part of Northampton School For Girls and The Williston Northampton School. She was an inspiration to so many of us.

  3. When I was recovering from cancer surgery 20 years ago and was in the schoolhouse with my wife, Karen came out of her office and said “ I know he’ll hate it but I’m going to give him a hug. To me that one small act epitomized Karen’s was of treating all she came in contact with.

  4. Karen had a spirit of effervescence and a compassion that touched everyone she came in contact with. I will always remember her fondly.

  5. Mrs. O’Neil believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I sat in her office my freshman year, arguing that I should be allowed to go back to public school in Delaware, because Geometry was too much for me. Bless her, her wisdom allowed her to compromise and let me drop back in math so that I could excel in the areas I didn’t hate. Because of Mrs. O’Neil, and all of my Williston family, I am who I am and I am where I am. Bless you on your journey, you strong sweet spirit. You are remembered with love.

  6. Karin was one of the first people to welcome me to WNS in 1989 and when i fell behind on my schoolwork she gave a gentle push and when I stopped applying myself she designed an action plan for me. Courteous, supportive and tough as nails she will be missed dearly by all who knew her.

  7. She was absolutely my very favorite teacher. We had much wonderful discourse about history and women’s issues through the ages.
    I was lucky to have had her for the first class of the day in 1971 because Ms. O’Neil would often provide doughnuts and coffee for the class!

  8. My first-ever history teacher that actually didn’t put me to sleep. Karen was amazing, so gifted in communication, and one of my favorite teachers. I am proud to have known this bright, caring woman and will miss her – RIP!

  9. Karin was an inspirational teacher at NSFG and always smiling like in her photo here. I have fond memories of her at both schools.

  10. Karin O’Neil was a true educator, practicing her art with that ineffable balance of knowledge, wisdom, rigor, humor, and humanity that makes a great teacher. Sending condolences to her family, friends, and generations of students and colleagues.

  11. Very saddened to learn of this. She was a good dorm mother and a patient teacher at NSFG. My deepest sympathies to Karin’s family and friends.

  12. It is sad news to learn of Karin O’Neil’s passing. My deepest sympathies go out to David and their family.

  13. So sorry to hear of her passing. Her knowledge,patience and humor made her an inspiration to many. She was a great teacher and will be missed.

  14. I think Karin’s granddaughter, Erin said it best ;
    “She was an educator by nature; every game we played, book we read, or road trip we took had a lesson.  Whether it was learning about diversity at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, exploring the wonders of space at COSI, or getting creative at the Columbus Museum of Art, she was continuously seizing opportunities to cultivate a passion for curiosity.
    She encouraged personal growth and inspired a love of learning without ever having to tell me how important those qualities are; the way she lived her life and guided my own was reason enough.” (Erin O’Neil)
    I could not be more proud of my mother for the lessons she taught, or my daughter for the writer she has become. Both Erin and Ryan have treasured their times with Karin and Dennis, and learned as much from their Grand Friends as they have from their parents.

    1. I knew your mother and her family back in 1960. That’s a long time ago, but I have never forgotten them. Obviously, Karin touched 100s of lives in a positive way.

  15. When I think about Karin, I remember a person with a warm smile. Just like the picture above, Karin brought joy to the work she was doing and the people she was helping. This takes passion.

  16. She was a lovely woman who actually made history somewhat interesting to this (at the time) history hater. I remember her infectious smile and gracious manner when I went over to Hathaway House to visit my fellow students and friends. Sending condolences to her family and all who were touched by her grace.

  17. I taught French at Northampton School from 1967-1971 with Karin and thoroughly enjoyed having her as a bright, inspiring colleague. She will be sorely missed.

  18. Karen was one of the great warm lights that greeted me as I started my Williston career in ’98. Not an ounce of judgement over who I was, just an abundance of hope and optimism about who I could become at Williston. I’ll always be grateful.

  19. Karin O’Neil was one of my favorite teachers at NSFG. She was an inspiration, supportative and encouraged me to preserve in my journey. My condolences to the family.

  20. She was always so professional–smart, compassionate, such a wonderful role model for young women like me (in those days!). What a loss for our Williston family. Keeping her loved ones in my prayers.

  21. Karin taught me so much in history in the early 1980s and she taught us that we were part of a VERY fortunate 1% of the U.S. population that could attend private school. She was an eye opener in many for me. So sorry to hear about this loss. Sad day for Willy Prep.

  22. Very sad news. Karin taught me a lot about boarding school life and Williston history and culture when I first became the Head of School. She was a wise and compassionate colleague and she cared deeply about the students and faculty at the school.

  23. Karin’s upbeat disposition and clear communication style were a constant comfort to me when I was at Williston. Beyond respect, I had great admiration for her welcoming ways.

  24. From the moment I met her, Mrs. O’Neil was one of my favorite teachers. She was a friend and inspiration to all who had the pleasure of knowing her. She will be fondly remembered and dearly missed by each of them.

  25. I was very sad to hear of Karin O’Neil’s passing. My sincere condolences to her family. I always looked forward to Karin’s history classes at NSG. More than that, I truly appreciated the compassion she showed during a difficult time. I’ll remember her fondly.

  26. My deepest condolences. Ms. O’Neil was one of the first people I met as an incoming 8th grader. It was her warm welcome and smile that helped me get through the first days and weeks of an educational experience that would change my life.

  27. Condolences to her family. What I most loved about her was her warmth and kindness. A lovely lady!

  28. Karin was one of those special spirits that I remember from my time at WNS. Quick witted, fair, and compassionate she always brought something to the classroom and, more importantly for those of us navigating our teen years, something to our lives. I will remember her bright smile always. Sending her family prayers in this special time.

  29. Karin was a superb teacher who I was privileged to have for my U.S. History elective. I remember lively classes to which I might just have contributed a bit! She managed to enthuse even the most taciturn students. I met her again at various Reunions and realized she was very well respected within the education sector in Massachusetts and Ohio.

  30. Karin was one of my mentors at a time in which I was very much in need of support and direction in my young career. Over 20 years later, I can say that I have kept her “firm but friendly” approach in my everyday work. She is one of the reasons why I stayed in education and love what I do! She will be missed in the Gibbons household for sure.

  31. In my one year at Williston Northampton, 1978-9, I spent a lot of time in the office of Ms. McNeil, as I was all over the place, academically and emotionally. She was patient, kind, and supportive. No matter what was going on with this student, her message was supportive. May God bless her and keep her.

  32. Karin was such an important mentor for me when I arrived at Williston over thirty years ago. For many years in the Academic Office, my meager efforts were made to look so much better through the skill and intelligence of Karin and Rosemary Watroba, the dynamic duo whom I intruded upon in the 1980s. Karin’s faith and confidence in me made a huge difference to a “young” teacher who was trying to figure everything out, and I will always be grateful to her for her consummate wisdom and humor. As I said to Ann Pickrell at the Memorial Service, this is truly the end of an era.

  33. I heard just today that Karen passed away. What a great and supportive person she was. I will miss her. I will remember always the day Karen and I were driving to a conference in Boston and she said I should apply for the soon to be vacant Middle School Director position at WNS. I applied, mainly because I felt she had faith in me. With Karen’s mentorship, I spent many happy years as SNS Middle School Director. She and Denny Grubbs always were there for me.

  34. Very sorry to learn of Mrs. O’Neil’s passing. She was truly a professional who set a standard to which most can only aspire. Always of good humor and much patience, she made quite a positive impression on her students. Positive impressions, lessons and examples that will be remembered fondly for a lifetime.
    My sincerest condolences to her son David and her whole family.

  35. There is so much I want to say about Mrs. O’Neil and her kind and wonderful way that she introduced us to and lead us on a journey of self discovery through the experiences of so many others that came before us. She had a subtle and unique way of presenting a subject that encouraged us to question and dig deeper into the mysteries of human nature through the study history and world religions. She created a classroom of enthusiastic and confident learners, allowing us to stray off the curriculum path and into the world of discussion and debate, all within an environment where respect for fellow students and opinions was understood. One could feel in every cell how she cared deeply for her students. How truly fortunate are we who happened to cross paths with her at NSFG and experience the joy of learning through the talent of such a gifted and beloved teacher.

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