Obituary of Gerri O'Neal
Neoma Geraldine Clayton O’Neal of New Market, Iowa passed away on December 25, 2023, at the Clarinda Regional Health Center in Clarinda, Iowa. She was born on November 14, 1923, in Imogene, Iowa to Virgil and Florence (Anderson) Clayton.
They later moved to New Market, Iowa where she attended school until the 9th grade, and like many children back then she left school to get a job. Gerri and her sister Deloma went to Omaha to work in a Chicken packing house in South Omaha. They walked to work in a not so good part of town and soon decided to come back home to be close to family.
She Then began cleaning houses for Millard and Beulah O’Neal, where she met the love of her life, Melvin O’Neal. They were married on October 31, 1942. Melvin went to the service when Gerri was expecting their first child. She gave birth to Melvin Duane while he was in WWII. Her dad, Virgil, helped raise Duane until Melvin was honorably discharged in 1946. He then attended flight school on the GI Bill and Gerri took training too but was very upset when Melvin sold the plane they were training on, and she was unable to get her license. In 1951, he flew for Max Hard. Mark Allen joined the family in 1954, and they moved to Palacios, Texas, where Melvin flew military ag supplies until 1959. When they moved back to Blair, Nebraska where Melvin drove a truck and farmed while Gerri and Duane Kept the farm going until 1965, Larry Gale was born in 1963. In 1966, they relocated to Odessa, Missouri and in 1967 they started their own Ag spraying business in Texas. She was a bookkeeper, managed payroll, helped flag fields, mixed chemicals, and gassed the planes. During hurricane Beulah, she loaded Larry up in a pickup truck and drove through the hurricane to west Texas. In 1976, they returned to New Market, Iowa to be close to family and go where the work was. They put in a new mobile home east of New Market, where she raised a large garden and mowed her huge yard. At age 95, she was still climbing a ladder to help paint the roof for leaks and canned 100 quarts of green beans. At the age of 98 she helped Larry can another 100 quarts of beans. She could outwork all of us younger ones until she was diagnosed with dementia. With help, she was able to stay in her own home until this past July, when she moved to the Bedford Specialty Care Center. There, with lots of family and wonderful memories made, we celebrated her 100th birthday. The Bedford 5th Grade Tag Students helped on her birthday with what happened in the year 1923. She loved her sweets and coffee.
Geraldine was preceded in death by her husband of 65 years, Melvin, son Melvin Duane O’Neal, parents Virgil and Florence (Anderson) Clayton, mother and father-in-law Millard and Beulah O’Neal, daughter-in-law Sandy plus all her brothers and sisters and their spouses.
Left to cherish her memory are her sons: Mark (Nancy) O’Neal, Larry (friend Sherry Skinner) O’Neal, 7 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 2 great-great-grandchildren, and many more nieces, nephews and friends.
In Loving Memory
1923 - 2023