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Loss of a Dear Colleague: Elizabeth O'Neill

The Department has learned of the loss of someone dear to the hearts of many current and former faculty, staff and graudate students. Ms. Elizabeth O’Neill (Petry), Graduate Admissions Coordinator and department Mother Hen™™, passed away on Thursday, March 19th, 2015. Survived by children, Temsen (Kathy), Larkin (Thuylynn), Newton and Allanda; grandchildren, Nathan (Shelly), Amanda, Rachel, Thomas, and Ellen; step great-grandchildren, Haley, Dillan, and Randy; brother, Jim (Judy) Petry; sister-in-law, Nancy Petry; aunt and uncle, Jewel and Frank Vanderpool; many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Elizabeth retired in 2007 after 32 years of service to the Ohio State University. She began her career in the Department of Chemistry. In 1980, Dr. David Hsiao, a faculty member and Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Database Systems, wooed her to join the young, then named, Computer and Information Science Department. Her secretarial skills were quickly noticed and she also began working for Dr. Tse Feng, a faculty member and Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Computers. Word of her work ethic, talents, and pleasant personality obviously spread because in 1986 Elizabeth took a position as the Department of English chairperson’s secretary. She was not allowed to remain there long. Dr. Mike Liu requested that she return to Computer Science as his secretary because he’d become the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Computers. At this point, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) became aware of her talents and recognized her efforts awarding her the IEEE Appreciation Award for Outstanding Service (1988). During the early ‘90s Elizabeth took over the Graduate Secretary position in the Computer Science Department. In this position, Elizabeth was responsible for assisting graduate students with the various rules, regulations, and paperwork necessary for them to achieve their goal of graduating. In addition, she opened, sorted, and logged in literally thousands of graduate student applications to the department over the years; including the peak year of 2001 when 1,500 came in. Her diligence in this position earned her a CSE Award for her contributions to academia.

But Elizabeth was much more than “just a staff member” of CSE. She was a loyal and devoted friend to anyone who showed her the same. She was the unofficial mother hen to more than one of her grad students. With the nickname, “Grandma” she was a stand-in grandparent for more than a few of the babies and toddlers of faculty members and students alike.

Family will receive friends Friday 6-8pm at the MAEDER-QUINT-TIBERI Funeral Home, 1068 S. High St. Friends and family will meet for funeral services 10am Saturday at Good Shepherd Community Church, 210 Obetz Rd., where procession will form. Pastor Gary Kirk officiating. Burial Fernwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Good Shepherd Community Church or Inner City Ministries, PO Box 23087, Columbus, OH 43223.