his Life

The early life of Harold Beotis O’Neal began on the family’s homestead and farm in Wedowee, Alabama. He was born on February 28, 1943 to parents James Huey O’Neal and Ida Bell Houston O’Neal in the house that his father's grandfather, James Isom “Dow” O’Neal, built. Harold was raised with a deep connection to the natural world and to the family legacy; his childhood on the farm and regular return visits throughout his adolescence would make an indelible mark on the man he would become.


Harold’s father relocated his family from Alabama to Dayton, Ohio after his service in WWII. A young Harold enrolled in Miami Chapel Grade School and later Dunbar High School. Harold found his early roots as a renaissance man at Dunbar: participating in student government, earning top scholastic achievement, playing the clarinet, joining the cross country track & field team, and giving back to his community through charitable organizations like UNICEF. Harold’s hard work and talent eventually earned him a scholarship to Miami University at Oxford, Ohio in the 1960s where he studied the then burgeoning field of computer science. While at Miami U he became a dedicated member of the Delta Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, joined ROTC, and landed a campus job as a systems engineer working alongside professors and graduate students on the school’s IBM main frame computers. Harold also landed the love of his life, Shirley Ann Peoples O’Neal, at Miami U; the pair married in 1968 and would spend the next 35 years together.


Harold’s days as a pioneering black professional in software engineering culminated with a successful career at Electronic Data Systems. At EDS, he worked in management roles and became a go-to expert on small PC-based computing for the company’s founder & CEO, Ross Perot. His love of technology took Harold on domestic and international work assignments, allowing him to travel the world for several years across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

At the heart of the man was a gigantic and magnetic personality that drew people from all walks of life; to know Harold was to love him instantly. Harold demonstrated deep compassion and generosity toward fellow humankind and nature. He used his life experience and unquenchable thirst for knowledge as a teaching tool to inspire others to reach their greatest potential. His faith, grace, and eloquence challenged people to see themselves, their world, and their history with new perspectives. No one has benefited from Harold’s dynamism and life philosophy more than the apple of his eye and only child, daughter Andrea. Harold and Andrea remained devoted to one another throughout the waning years of his life and health; he passed away peacefully with her by his side on May 28, 2016. He was 73 years old.


Harold B. O’Neal is preceded in death by both of his parents. He is survived by his daughter, Andrea M. O’Neal, and his two younger brothers, Jerome O’Neal and Rodney O’Neal (Yani S. O’Neal). Harold’s legacy also lives on through his treasured nieces and nephews: Derek O’Neal, Ambra O’Neal Alleman, Rodney L. O’Neal, Heather M. O’Neal, Damien C. O’Neal, Felicia Garnes, Fess Cassels, Robert Cassels Jr., James Peoples Jr., Janie Peoples and Brian Minter, beloved aunt Erma Simon and uncle Lawrence O’Neal, former spouse and life-long friend Shirley Peoples O’Neal, and countless loving cousins, friends and community members. Harold B. O’Neal no longer dwells physically among us, yet his Spirit springs eternal in and through the Lord.