Daniel Patrick O'Neil

Age: 22

Class: Masters Student (first year)

Major: Environmental Engineering

Hometown: Lincoln, RI

High School: Lincoln (Lincoln, RI) - Class of 2002

Previous College Education: BS, Civil Engineering (Lafayette College, 2006)

Died along with Prof. Loganathan and 8 other students in Advanced Hydrology class.


Audio/Video Remembrances

Resident Hippy: Daniel O'Neil's personal website where his original songs are posted.

YouTube Tribute Video from StargateDancer (Editor's note: A beautifully done video.)

Personal Remembrances From Family/Friends/Colleagues

Submit your personal remembrance for posting here (please include your name and relationship).

The Facebook Daniel O'Neil Memorial at Facebook

From Lafayette College: In Memoriam: Daniel Patrick O'Neil '06

Dan O’Neil ’06 was as well-rounded as a student can be.

Not only did he excel in the classroom and lab as a civil engineering major, he also loved the arts and sports. He was vice president of the Arts Society, a member of the Marquis Players acting group, lived for two years in the Arts Houses, and was always playing the guitar.

“Dan was a strong student. He came to Lafayette because of its engineering program, but also because of the liberal arts aspect,” says Mary J.S. Roth ’83, Simon Professor and head of civil and environmental engineering.

“He really enjoyed music and theater as well as engineering,” Roth says. “Dan was a student who took advantage of everything we have to offer. He was the kind of student we want here at Lafayette.”

After graduating last May with a B.S. in civil engineering, O’Neil enrolled in a master’s degree program in environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. He planned to work as a water resources engineer for a firm in the Boston area.

But those plans were snuffed out April 16, as O’Neil was one of 32 people killed in the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech.

A campus memorial service honoring the life of O'Neil will be held 4 p.m. Friday, May 4, in Colton Chapel.

“Some things simply cannot be made sense of, and in the face of such things we must just acknowledge how fragile human life is and how important being part of a larger community is to us all,” says President Daniel Weiss. “Dan O’Neil was a dear and integral member of our community. It is difficult to find words to express the deep sense of loss we all feel. The sympathy of all members of our College family is with this young man’s family in this tragic hour.

“All of us at Lafayette share in expressing our deepest sympathies to the people of Virginia Tech and Blacksburg. With the greatest sense of loss and sadness, our thoughts will be with you all in the coming days and weeks,” Weiss says.

“It’s difficult to find anything positive in this tragedy,” says David Brandes, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, with whom O’Neil did research as an EXCEL Scholar on the effects of urban development on flooding problems in the Lehigh Valley.

“Through my research with Dan in the summer of 2005 and continuing throughout his senior year, I learned that he was a special student and a special person – energetic, passionate, and full of humor. Not a typical civil engineer, he had interests in music, the arts, the outdoors, and of course, the Red Sox,” Brandes says. “Through our work he became interested in environmental engineering and hydrology as a career, and I helped him apply to Virginia Tech and other schools.”

Among other notable academic endeavors, O’Neil spent a semester in Brussels, Belgium, studying engineering, art history, languages, and culture, and collaborated in a senior design project focusing on storm water issues on campus.

“He loved music,” says Allison Blatt, operations director of the Williams Center for the Arts, where O’Neil served as an usher and box office helper, and adviser to the College’s Arts Society and Arts Houses. “That’s what he liked to do.

“He’d just show up at other Arts Houses with his guitar, sit down and play, then get up and leave,” Blatt says. “He was very passionate and enthusiastic about music – and about environmental engineering.”

Newspaper Remembrance Stories

Civil Engineer Loved Running, Writing Music
(Roanoke Times Profile)

Daniel O’Neil was an avid runner, a prolific musician and was working toward a master’s degree in environmental engineering at Virginia Tech at the time of the shooting. He already had a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Lafayette College.

A high school friend, Steve Craveiro described O’Neil as smart, responsible and a hard worker in an Associated Press report. O’Neil also played guitar and often wrote his own songs, which he posted on his Web site, www.residenthippy.com, Craveiro said.

Katlyn Duquenoy, a neighbor who had known O’Neil since fourth grade, said he was always a go-getter and a gifted musician. He also was on the high school cross country and track teams. “He really was a nice kid,” she said.

— Christina Rogers (Roanoke Times, 3/18/07)

New York Times Profile:

Daniel Patrick O'Neil, 22, was a graduate student from Lincoln, R.I., whose twin passions were music and engineering. He studied civil engineering as an undergraduate at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, where he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class, before enrolling at Virginia Tech to pursue a degree in environmental engineering. He was also a member of the school's Arts Society, and a star cross-country runner.

In addition to excelling in class, on stage and on the track, he taught friends how to play guitar, wrote and sang his own songs, and recorded his own music. Many of his folksy, acoustic melodies - with titles like "Whispers" and "Typical Love Song" - can be found on his Web site, residenthippy.com, and his Myspace page, myspace.com/residenthippy.

Daniel Weiss, the president of Lafayette College, said the school was planning a service to remember Mr. O'Neil, saying his death created "a deep sense of loss in our community." Another friend and former classmate at Lafayette, Caitlin Ward, left a message for Mr. O'Neil on his Web site.

"Dan you were an amazing person," she said. "I hope you know how much you meant to the people who knew you here. We are keeping you and your family and friends in our prayers. You will never be forgotten. Love forever."

Engineering grad student loved to act
USAToday Profile

Daniel O'Neil was a graduate student in environmental engineering, but that didn't make him a nerd.

O'Neil, 22, wrote and sang his own songs, which he posted on a website. He also played guitar, loved the outdoors and acted in his theater troupe, according to a statement from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., where O'Neil earned a degree in civil engineering in 2006.

A native of Lincoln, R.I., O'Neil designed the sets and played Prince Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress his senior year. He was active in the Lafayette College Arts Society and helped at the theater box office.

He did research on storm-water runoff and the impact of urban development on water resources.

O'Neil "was a special student and a special person — energetic, passionate, and full of humor," one of his Lafayette professors, David Brandes said. He was "not a typical civil engineer."

Washington Post Profile:

Daniel Patrick O'Neil, 22, was a student of engineering, but friends remembered the graduate student yesterday for his music and good humor.

"He was very intelligent, open-minded and talented; a naturally bright person and a renaissance man," Rob Harkness, a close friend of O'Neil's since he was a student at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, R.I., said via e-mail.

O'Neil entertained friends as a musician and singer, writing and performing songs on his acoustic guitar. He shared his folksy, haunting songs on his Web site, www.residenthippy.com, and his MySpace page.

"He was a loving and humorous person," Harkness recalled. "His character and virtuousness was unparalleled to anyone else I knew. His future held only promises of success, and he was someone to aspire to be like."

O'Neil received an undergraduate degree in civil engineering at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., last year. He enrolled at Virginia Tech to pursue graduate studies in environmental engineering.

"It is difficult to find words to express the deep sense of loss in our community," Lafayette President Daniel Weiss said in a statement. "The sympathy of all members of our College family is with this young man's family in this tragic hour."

O'Neil's family has asked not to be contacted by the media.

"He focused his life on the positive things and never took his friends and family for granted," Harkness said. "I speak for all of his friends when I say we take comfort in knowing that not a single moment has ever passed where Dan was not aware of our love for him. We now fear our own existence without him more than we fear the existence he is now in."

-- Josh Zumbrun, The Washington Post

Chronicle of Higher Education Profile:

Daniel P. O’Neil, 22, was a self-taught musician who maintained a personal Web site with two dozen songs in which he accompanied himself on acoustic guitar.

The first-year graduate student in civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech graduated from Lafayette College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, in 2006. At Lafayette, Mr. O’Neil was an Excel scholar, a program in which students do scientific research with a faculty member. He studied the effects of urban development on a local watershed under David Brandes, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

In a written statement on Lafayette’s Web site, Mr. Brandes remembered his student as “not a typical civil engineer.” He said Mr. O’Neil “had interests in music, the arts, the outdoors, and of course, the Red Sox.”

Mr. O’Neil graduated from Lincoln High School, in his hometown of Lincoln, R.I., 20th among the 228 students in 2002. “He took very demanding classes, and did well,” recalls the assistant principal, Kevin J. McNamara. “He made friends easily. He was just a positive type of person.”

In his senior year of high school he had a hole in his schedule and volunteered as an assistant to the music teacher, helping younger students. “He was a well-rounded student,” says the teacher, David M. Enos. “He was respected by different groups of students, not just those in his clique. That’s pretty rare.”

—Burton Bollag

R.I. native had 'lots to give the world'
The Boston Globe

LINCOLN, R.I. -- Strolling in bare feet with a guitar slung over his shoulders, Daniel Patrick O'Neil liked to serenade friends at college with a brand of music one called "subversive folk music."

"He wrote songs, and typically folky stuff but a little wacky," said Allison Quensen Blatt, adviser to the Arts Society at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. "He was a free spirit."

He was also smart and serious when it came to studying ways to protect the environment, friends said yesterday.

A native of Lincoln, R.I., and 2006 Lafayette graduate, O'Neil, 22, was killed Monday in the massacre at Virginia Tech, where he was in his first year pursuing a graduate degree in environmental engineering. The death of O'Neil, a 2002 Lincoln Senior High School graduate who loved to sing, cook, and study nature, left people on three campuses stunned and in mourning yesterday.

"He really had a lot of ability to be really successful, and I think he would have been. It's just tragic that he's gone so young," said Katlyn Duquenoy, a neighbor who was one of O'Neil's high school classmates. "You never expect that to happen to someone you know, especially in a town like Lincoln."

At Lafayette College, O'Neil had a way of floating around campus -- into friends' homes and professors' offices -- to chat or play music, Blatt said. Last fall, he called Blatt to ask if he could play in the Block pARTy, a campus street festival, and the next day he was there, strumming away as though he were still in school there.

"Nobody batted an eyelash," Blatt said. "It was like, 'Oh, there's Dan with his guitar.'"

At Lincoln High, O'Neil was a whirlwind: a member of the track team, math team, and National Honor Society, and a guitar player in the jazz band and student variety show. He was also active in Renaissance, a club that tries to make the school more welcoming by sponsoring dances, breakfasts, and community service projects. The quotes in his yearbook entry read, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die," and "Life ain't a track meet, it's a marathon."

"He always had a smile on his face -- a very positive, nice kid who had many, many friends," said Kevin McNamara, the assistant principal at Lincoln High.

"He was a student with lots to give the world."

A longtime neighbor in Lincoln, Clifford Mazer, recalled that the most trouble O'Neil ever caused was playing his drums too loudly.

"We're just devastated by the news," Mazer said. "He was a wonderful child."

As a member of the Marquis Players, the student-acting troupe at Lafayette, O'Neil worked as an usher and in the box office, helped build sets, and donned tights to play the role of Prince Dauntless in the musical "Once Upon a Mattress," Blatt said.

If art was a constant in O'Neil's life, so was science. At Lafayette, he won a scholarship to help his professor, David Brandes, research the effects of urban development on local watersheds. They focused on the damage that Hurricane Ivan had caused to local waterways in 2004. A photo on a college website showed O'Neil studying flood damage, dressed in hip waders in the sun-dappled Bushkill Creek.

Even when he wasn't in the field, O'Neil thought about the environment, Blatt said.

"He used to come in and tell me how badly designed the college quad was, because it couldn' handle runoff, and how he could fix it if he had the time and money."

Yesterday, as word spread about O'Neil's death, his father, Daniel, traveled to Virginia, Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri ordered flags to half staff, and students at Lafayette mourned in the campus chapel.

"The students I've talked to today are really at sea," Blatt said.

Virginia Tech Magazine Profile (5/07)

Daniel Patrick O’Neil of Lincoln, R.I., a master’s degree student in environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, was a scientist and an artist.

He loved math and earned a B.S. in civil engineering from Lafayette College, discovering his interest in the environment as an EXCEL Scholar, a Lafayette program that involves undergraduates in research. In 2005, Daniel studied storm-water runoff in a Pennsylvania creek and the effects of urban development on flooding and decided on hydrology as a career. He worked as a junior engineer at Pare Engineering in Lincoln during the summer 2006 and over Christmas break 2006-07. At Virginia Tech, he worked as a teaching assistant in civil and environmental engineering.

But Daniel was not all about work. He had a love of music, theater, and politics.  He was very active in high school and college drama productions and variety shows. At Lincoln High School, in addition to competing on the cross-country and track teams, he would hang out and play music with his friends, Amanda Burbank, Gharam Han, Mike Truppi, Mike DiSano, Rob Harkness, and Rich Anatone.

At Lafayette, he continued his involvement in art and sports, according to a Lafayette memoriam. He was vice president of the Arts Society, a member of the Marquis Players acting group, and lived for two years in the Arts House, where he was an advisor. He played guitar and piano, and with his friends, Amanda Driscoll and Matt Roy, he performed at Lafayette block parties and reunions. 

Daniel’s other interests were running; Red Sox baseball; Hokie football and basketball; backpacking; biking; skateboarding; and traveling, especially in Europe. He spent a semester in Brussels, Belgium, studying engineering, art history, languages, and culture and recently returned there to visit his host family. He traveled to most of the countries of Western Europe and planned to live in Dublin, Ireland, after graduation.

Daniel was exceedingly loyal to his friends and family. His friends plan to produce a CD of his music as a fundraiser. Twenty-five of his songs can be heard at his website, http://www.residenthippy.com/music.htm.

VT Memorial Scholarship / Lafayette College Memorial Fund

Through the Virginia Tech Foundation, the Daniel Patrick O'Neil Memorial Scholarship has been established at Virginia Tech in his memory. For more information and/or to donate to this memorial fund, see VT's Hokie Spirit Memorial Funds page.

In addition, Lafayette College has established the Daniel P. O’Neil ’06 Memorial Fund. For more information and/or to donate to this memorial fund, click here.