Dianne O’Neill: 1940-2015
Dianne Mary Undem O’Neill, age 75, loving, devoted, faithful wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend went to be with our Lord Jesus Christ on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, surrounded by family after a courageous battle with cancer.
Dianne was born April 25, 1940, in Terry, Montana, the daughter of Nels and Julia Smalis Undem. The oldest of three girls, she spent her formative years in Prairie County. She was raised on the Undem Ranch, a place always near and dear to her heart that created the foundation for her life. Dianne graduated from Terry High School in 1958, attended MSU (then Montana State College) until 1960, and graduated from Iowa State University in 1962 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Home Economics Education and Extension, now Family and Consumer Science (FCS). She was member of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority.
Dianne married Frank O’Neill, the love of her life, Dec. 2, 1967. Together they raised three sons: Steven, Patrick, and Michael. The O’Neills lived and raised cattle on the Undem Ranch north of Terry and felt it their privilege to be carrying on the family ranch. Dianne’s true joy was her sons and grandchildren. Raising their family on the ranch was very important to her. Her character was marked with unconditional love, kindness, compassion, complete devotion, industrious work ethic, humorous remarks, endless giving, and selfless sacrifices of time and energy for family, friends, and students. Dianne’s life priorities were faith, family, education, and 4-H.
Her passions include her family, teaching Home Economics, 4-H, gardening, sewing, cooking, canning, knitting, and baking. Picking and canning chokecherries was a yearly highlight for Dianne. As her family grew up, 4-H was a priority in their lives and Dianne spent 25 years serving as a 4-H Leader. She especially enjoyed all forms of needlework especially Hardanger (Norwegian embroidery), crocheting afghans, and organizing scrapbooks of family photos.
Dianne’s professional life was spent serving as County Extension Agent in Fallon and Carter Counties; Area Home Economist for the Montana Extension Service in Bozeman; Domestic Science Teacher in Galston, Ayrshire, Scotland; and FCS Teacher at Terry High School for 26 years. She retired in 2005 after working at the Office of Public Instruction in Helena as Montana State Specialist for FCS and State FCCLA Advisor for four years. Dianne made many close friends in the world of FCS that have spanned a lifetime. Dianne was gifted in teaching and had the ability to recognize, guide, nurture, and develop students in and beyond the classroom.
Dianne was a member of national, regional, and local organizations: FCS, Cattlewomen, Republican Women, and Prairie County Extension Homemakers.
Dianne truly loved Eastern Montana, especially the family ranch in Prairie County. She often went home after school to help with whatever needed to be done at the ranch. She thoroughly enjoyed preparing the many meals she served to family, friends, neighbors, guests, and ranch help. Dianne treasured company and entertaining at the ranch, which has been home to four generations of her family. Upon retirement Frank and Dianne lived in Miles City but home was always the ranch.
Dianne was preceded in death by her parents Nels and Julia (Smalis) Undem and her infant brother Nikki. She is survived by her husband Frank of Miles City/Terry; her son Steven (Connie) grandchildren Kaitlin, Grady, Taylor, and Payton of Groton, South Dakota; son Patrick of Terry; son Michael (Theresa) grandchildren Kelli, Reid, Grant, and Grace of Great Falls; her sister Donna Lehman of Maxwell, NB; her sister Connie Bosman of Tucson, Arizona; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
A memorial service was at the Terry Community Presbyterian Church Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Funeral services were at the Terry Community Presbyterian Church at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 21, 2015, followed by graveside services at the Prairie County Cemetery. Dianne was looking forward to having Thanksgiving with her family, so her family invited everyone to share in an early Thanksgiving dinner celebrating her life immediately after graveside services.
In lieu of flowers, Dianne requested that any donations be made to the Prairie County 4-H Council, the Montana 4-H Foundation, the Prairie County Museum, the Evelyn Cameron Foundation, or the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.
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