Maurice C. “Bro. O” O’Neal, age 91 of Nashville, Tenn., died on March 3, 2012, after an extended illness.
He was reared in Marshall Co., and attended Cornersville High School. He received his GED from Middle Tennessee State Teachers College 1951 and graduated from David Lipscomb College 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ministerial Speech and three minors, Bible, Greek & Song Leading Music.
O’Neal began farming full time as a sharecropper at 17. He was married to Dorothy Throneberry on June 26, 1938. They were sharecroppers until 1946 when he began learning the residential home building trade, and ultimately he had his own construction business in Marshall Co.
O’Neal had a vision for preaching from his childhood days and preached his first sermon in July 1949 in rural Lawrence Co, Tenn. at the Piney Church of Christ. He was engaged after his first sermon for an eight day gospel meeting to start two weeks later, and returned once a month for the remainder of the year. He began preaching every Sunday, January 1950, at the Allisona Church of Christ in southern Williamson Co., in addition to building houses.
O’Neal’s experience in preaching gave him the desire to advance his education. At the age of 31 in 1952, he was encouraged by his wife and three children to enroll in David Lipscomb College to become a full-time ministerial student. While attending college, he served as the minister of the River Road Church of Christ, Nashville, from 1953-1958. It was there that he used his construction experience as the general contractor for a new church building, which still remains. Bro. O’Neal often said some of his fondest memories were formed at River Road because of the large number of converts he witnessed while there.
In 1958, O’Neal began full-time ministry at the historic Portland Church of Christ, Portland, Tenn. He served eight years as pulpit minister, youth director, educational director and personal work director. In addition, he spoke in a weekly radio broadcast. A new educational building was built while at Portland. In 1966, he began an 18-year ministry with the Wingate Church of Christ, Nashville. It was there that he was effective in establishing one of the best known personal work programs in the brotherhood.
Due to the increase in membership during his tenure at Wingate, two building programs were accomplished. Also, he was instrumental in helping establish the Great Commission School, as well as the school’s curriculum of personal work. The School met at the Wingate building for many years.
In 1984, Bro. O’Neal began his ten years of service at the Gilroy church in Southeast Davidson County. He had planned to retire from full-time ministry in October 1994. However in 1995, the Jones Chapel congregation in Williamson Co., Tenn., persuaded him to fill in as temporary minister, which lasted almost five years.
Bro. O’Neal participated in numerous gospel meeting campaigns, both in the local area and other states during his career. He spent 57 years preaching, teaching, and speaking; of which 50 years were full-time. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation of David Lipscomb University for 42 years; twenty-four of those years as treasurer.
O’Neal retired from preaching March 2006 at the age of 85. It was Bro. O’Neal’s belief that to be an effective preacher, one must love souls, work hard, study the Bible diligently and live a godly life. He had his wife as a life-long companion by his side for 73 years, giving encouragement and help along his spiritual journey.
O’Neal is survived by his wife, Dorothy “Dot” Throneberry O’Neal; daughter, Andrea Kay (Phillip) Prince, Nashville, Tenn.; son, Joe W. (Lillian) O’Neal, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; daughter-in-law, Sandy O’Neal, Franklin, NC; grandchildren, Terry Lynn O’Neal (Clinton) Hooper, Clayton, GA; Maurice “Buster” (Mary) O’Neal, Columbia, Tenn.; Mary Kay (Mark) Cochran, Franklin, NC; Kent (Tiffanie) Prince, Plano, TX; Joey (Gloria) Ensign-O’Neal, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Leeann (Brett) Strassburg, Smyrna, Tenn.; Patrick (Erin) O’Neal, Denver, CO; 10 great grandchildren; 8 great-great grandchildren; sisters, Evangeline Stinnett, Nashville, Tenn.; LaRue (Royster) Moss, Nashville, Tenn.; sister-in-law, Frances O’Neal, Fayetteville, Tenn.; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and numerous friends. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by son, Jack O’Neal; three brothers, A.G., John & David O’Neal.
The family wishes to express appreciation to the staff of Elmcroft of Brentwood Senior Living, and the caretakers of Guardian Hospice.
Visitation will be Tuesday, March 6, 2012, from 2-8 p.m. at Woodbine Funeral Home, HICKORY CHAPEL, 5852 Nolensville Road and Wednesday from 12-1:30 p.m. at the church. Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. at Crieve Hall Church of Christ, 4806 Trousdale Dr., Nashville by Leslie Wyatt, Tim Frizzell & Wendell Byrd.
Burial will be at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens. Family members will serve as Pallbearers. Elders, Deacons, and friends will serve as Honorary Pallbearers. Memorial contributions may be made to Johnson Scholarship Foundation c/o Lipscomb University. WOODBINE FUNERAL HOME, HICKORY CHAPEL, Directors, 615-331-1952. Still Family Owned.