Phyllis O'Neill

Phyllis Schlesser O'Neill

Monday, September 18th, 1922 - Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
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Phyllis Schlesser O'Neill, a 63 year resident of Lemon Grove, died on Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 3:06 a.m. in San Diego. Phyllis Maxine Schlesser was born September 18, 1922 to Henry James Schlesser and Hildagard “Hilda” Catherine Pins on the family farm in rural Maurice, Sherman Township, Sioux County, Iowa; she was the second child in a family of 5 children. Phyllis attended a one-room country schoolhouse – Sherman Township School #8. She graduated from Maurice High School.

Upon graduation, Phyllis kept house for various families in town and eventually moved to Sioux City, Iowa. While working and attending business college in Sioux City she met her future husband on a blind date – Francis Joseph O’Neill, a native of Alaska. He was stationed at Sioux City Army Air Base. Francis served as a Captain in the Army Air Forces with the 8th Air Force, 388th Bomb Group during World War II in European combat operations. Phyllis relocated to Oak Park, Illinois and accepted a position within the catalog department at Sears Roebuck in Chicago. Upon Francis’ return from the war, he married Phyllis on October 13, 1945 at Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park, Illinois. Their honeymoon was a sleeper car train trip from Chicago to Seattle and then a steamer ship to Anchorage, Alaska. Phyllis and Francis made their home in Anchorage until moving to Lemon Grove in 1957.

Phyllis was a devout Catholic and proud of her Faith. She served as a Lector at St. John of the Cross Parish for over 25 years. She was a member of Catholic Daughters of the Americas - Court Teresa of Avila #1580 for over 60 years, Ladies of Columbus - Our Lady of Grace Council and St. John of the Cross Womens Club. Phyllis and Francis loved to play pinochle and bowl – they were active members of Court Teresa of Avila’s Pinochle Group and Bowling League. They looked forward to their frequent pinochle parties and weekly bowling. After Phyllis was no longer physically able to bowl, Francis continued to bowl for many years in the league with Phyllis as his enthusiastic spectator!

Phyllis retired from the State of California – Employment Development Department. During her retirement she enjoyed working in her garden – tending her roses, apricot, avocado, lemon, orange, peach and plum trees; raising crops of tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus, boysenberries and grapes. Growing up during the Great Depression, Phyllis learned to be thrifty from a young age. She was an excellent cook and baker. Phyllis possessed the ability to prepare delicious family meals from scratch for her husband and seven children on a tight budget. Each year Phyllis canned her own tomatoes & apricots and made apricot jam & preserves. Phyllis was also known for her delicious fruit pies: apple, apricot and boysenberry as well as baking her famous Turtle Cake and annually baking the O’Neill Family Fruit Cake recipe passed down to Phyllis from her beloved mother-in-law Florence!

Phyllis’ husband Francis, daughter Susan Margaret O'Neill Ferris, daughter-in-law Kathleen Jane Landers O’Neill and sister Darlene Schlesser Barkowski predeceased her. Dearly loved by her family and friends, she is survived by her children: Mary Kathleen O'Neill (Larry Stoner) of Garden Grove, Robert F. of La Jolla, Thomas J. (Sherie) of Kerrville TX, Daniel J. (Linda) of Spring Valley, Mark H.W. of San Diego and Teresa O'Neill Topping (Woody) of El Cajon, son-in-law John R. Ferris, his wife Liz of Coto de Cazo; Grandchildren are Kaitlyn Antus (Joshua), Shannon Jones (Dalton); Leslie, Angela and Erin O'Neill; Nicholas and Christopher Topping; Meghan and Mary Teresa Ferris; great-grandchildren Jameson and Kylah Antus; step-grandsons Ronald Hillers and Sean Glidden; and step-great-grandchildren Kjersten and Elle Hillers; Charlotte, Coraline and Kingston Jones. Phyllis is also survived by her sisters: Carmen O’Brien of Jacksonville FL and Dolores H. Arens of Le Mars IA; her brother Robert Schlesser (Ruby) of Le Mars IA; her sister-in-law Sandra O’Neill of New Canaan CT; numerous nieces and nephews.

More recently, Phyllis resided at Nazareth House in San Diego. The kindness, dignity, care and love Phyllis received from the Sisters of Nazareth, staff and caregivers (commonly referred to as the Angels of Nazareth by her daughter Teresa) at Nazareth House is deeply appreciated by her children and will never be forgotten.

Services are as follows: Visitation on Friday, November 6 from 4:00 – 8:00pm with Rosary at 7:00pm at Featheringill Mortuary, 6322 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego.

Mass of the Resurrection will be at 10:00am on Saturday, November 7 at Holy Cross Chapel, 4470 Hilltop Drive, San Diego with burial immediately following the Mass in Holy Cross Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Phyllis may be sent to Nazareth House 6333 Rancho Mission Rd., San Diego CA 92108 or CDA-Court Teresa of Avila #1580, 579 Elkelton Blvd., Spring Valley CA 91977.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Friday, November 6th, 2020 | 4:00pm - 8:00pm
    Friday, November 6th, 2020 4:00pm - 8:00pm
    Featheringill Mortuary College Chapel
    6322 El Cajon Blvd
    San Diego, CA 92115
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Rosary Service

    Friday, November 6th, 2020 | 7:00pm
    Friday, November 6th, 2020 7:00pm
    Featheringill Mortuary College Chapel
    6322 El Cajon Blvd
    San Diego, CA 92115
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Saturday, November 7th, 2020 | 10:00am
    Saturday, November 7th, 2020 10:00am
    Holy Cross Chapel
    4470 Hilltop Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92102
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Saturday, November 7th, 2020 |
    Saturday, November 7th, 2020
    Holy Cross Cemetery
    4470 Hilltop Dr.
    San Diego, Ca 92102
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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The Jarrin Family and We send our love and hugs... The Arens family sent flowers to the family of Phyllis Schlesser O'Neill.
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The Jarrin Family

Posted at 05:14pm
With heartfelt condolences,
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We send our love and hugs... The Arens family

Posted at 12:42pm
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you with joy and peace as you trust in Him... Romans 15:13"
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We send our love and hugs... The Arens family purchased the Your Light Shines for the family of Phyllis O'Neill. Send Flowers


Shannon O’Neill Jones

Posted at 11:21am
I will always remember the smell of grandma’s rose garden as we pulled up to her house for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter. She would always send us home with chocolate chip cookies that we helped her bake and a big bag full of oranges from their orange tree. I will always cherish my memories with her.

Cathy O'Neill-Zeehandelaar Posted at 11:10am

My Love and condolences to the family. I remember years a go going over to Francis and Phyllis's house for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Phyllis and Theresa Would be cooking together. Phyllis was an excellent cook. The holiday dinners were so good . I always enjoyed seeing everyone during the holidays.Phyllis was also an excellent seamstress . She made some beautiful outfits. I remember when Francis and Phyllis where planning a trip to Hawaii. Phyllis made a white pantsuit with beautiful buttons down the front of it. She was talented at sewing.. Phyllis always enjoyed a good conversation with everyone. May God surround the family with love at this time.

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