Harry St. A. O'Neill, retired Harford District Court judge, dies

Services for Harry St. A. O'Neill, a retired Harford County District Court judge who earlier had been a trial magistrate and a judge for the county's People's Court, will be held Thursday in Parkville following his death earlier this year.

Judge O'Neill died of cancer Jan. 21 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 92.

The son of Howard S. O'Neill, a lawyer and state senator, and Madeleine Robinson O'Neill, a homemaker, Harry St. Arnaud O'Neill was born and raised in Bel Air.

Judge O'Neill's family has been in Harford County since the 1700s, when Henry W. O'Neill emigrated from Ireland and settled in Rocks. Judge O'Neill's maternal grandfather, Thomas Hall Robinson, served in the state Senate in the 1890s, and from 1923 to 1930 had been Maryland attorney general.

After graduating from Bel Air High School, he began his college studies at St. Mary's College, where he earmed a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1943.

He enlisted in the Army in 1944 and, while serving with the 100th Infantry Division, was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge when he stepped on a land mine.

He received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, and was discharged in 1946 with the rank of staff sergeant.

After earning a law degree in 1949 from Georgetown University, he joined his father's law firm, and specialized in real estate and estate law.

From 1951 to 1959, he served as a trial magistrate. In 1967 he was named a judge, and two years later chief judge, of the People's Court, where he served until 1971.

When the county District Court was established in 1971, he was appointed to the bench by Gov. Marvin Mandel and was reappointed in 1981. He retired in 1985.

"You can't help but miss something that's been part of your life," he told The Evening Sun at the time of his retirement. "I feel I've done the best job I could have done, and I am satisfied with that."

One of his landmark decisions came in 1983. In a nine-page decision, he ruled that of Maryland State Police sobriety checkpoints were constitutional.

He was an incorporator of Mann House Inc., a Bel Air halfway house for those suffering from alcoholism. With assistance from the Alcoholism Clinic for Harford County and the state police, he established a clinic to educate those who were charged with driving while under the influence.

He was married in 1952 to Anna Lyles Millea, a registered nurse who had served in the Navy during World War II. They settled in Fallston, where they lived until 1997, when they moved to Oak Crest Village Retirement Community in Parkville.

Mrs. O'Neill died in 2004.

Judge O'Neill had been a communicant, lector and cantor at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church in Fallston, and in 1983 was ordained a deacon by Archbishop William D. Borders. At Oak Crest Village, he was active in the deacon ministry.

Judge O'Neill enjoyed crossword puzzles, exercising and visiting family members.

A Mass of Resurrection will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday at Oak Crest Village, 8800 Walther Blvd., Parkville.

He is survived by a daughter, Mary Rohrs of Fallston; a brother, Dan O'Neill of Bel Air; a sister, Nancy Rideout of Lebanon, N.H.; and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by another daughter, Christine M. Haldiman.

—Frederick N. Rasmussen

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