Walter Hardy O’Neal, Jr passed away at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital on October 5, 2021 after a well fought battle. Walter was a native of Edgecombe County and a graduate of North Edgecombe High School as well as Wingate College. After college, he served in the US Army’s 59th MP Company and was stationed in Germany during part of that time. Upon discharge from the Army, he married the love of his life, Mary Ann Briley, and they settled down to farm. Walter Jr was honored to farm along beside his dad, Walter Hardy, for many years. As he neared retirement, he willingly became a loving caregiver for his father and later his mother. After their passing, he had the opportunity to continue to help a local farmer. Until he became ill, he looked forward to his Big Jim’s cheese biscuit, his work family and his job every day.
Though Walter loved farming, he had many other interests and hobbies as well. He was an avid reader; Walter could devour an entire book in one sitting. He also loved sports and played baseball himself in high school. Walter never missed a basketball game in ten seasons of play between his two girls. He was their biggest fan. Planting gardens the size of mini farms was also one of his favorite past times much to the dismay of his family. In his later years, he loved to can vegetable and make preserves as well as homemade wine. He even had his own label. He was also well known for continuing the tradition that his mom handed down, making peanut brittle from the “secret family recipe”. Most of Walter’s spare time, however, was spent in his two favorite past times: talking and coon hunting. He preferred to combine the two together.
The last few years of his life, Walter and his wife made some great memories. They were able to reconnect with his army buddies for reunions and travel across the US for visits. A few persistent friends talked him into visiting Dawson Baptist Church and that literally changed the trajectory of his life forever. He and Mary Ann spent many hours serving the Lord and fellowshipping with friends through the ministry opportunities at church.
Walter’s life showed us how to accept the loving and transforming grace of our Savior, give generously, love big. He invested time and energy into others, especially the younger generation. He would cry openly when watching Old Yeller, and he would give you the shirt off of his back even if he did not have another. He was a wonderful example of a friend and family man and touched many a life while here on this earth. At ease soldier.
Walter was preceded in death by his parents, Mary Elizabeth Norris O’Neal and Walter Hardy O’Neal, Sr as well as his infant niece, Jennifer Elizabeth Hill. He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years Mary Ann Briley O’Neal, daughter Melissa O’Neal and her husband Craig Godwin, and daughter Krista O’Neal Rourk as well as his grandchildren Briley, Karoline and Kendall Rourk and Anna and Ava Godwin. He is also survived by his sister Susan O’Neal Hill and her husband John and nephew Brad Hill and wife Summer. Walter was very blessed to have a host of cherished friends and family members in his life that never ceased to make him feel special, especially his Dawson “Bubba” Britt and Dandy.
The family will receive visitors at Carlisle Funeral Home on Friday, October 8th at 2:00 pm with a memorial service following at 3:00 pm in the chapel.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Walter’s honor to Dawson Baptist Church Benevolence Fund, 9775 13 Bridges Road, Enfield, NC 27823 or his favorite charity, St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Walter Hardy O'Neal Jr., please visit our floral store.