Established in 1875

Floral 30

Isabel Burgess O'Neill

September 12, 1935 ~ July 28, 2019 (age 83)

Isabel Burgess O’Neill died peacefully in Champaign on July 28, 2019 at the age of 83.

 Isabel was preceded in death by her husband, Gerald Louis O’Neill, her parents Hampton and Celia Burgess and brother Harlan Burgess (Sue).

 Isabel is survived by her children, Diane Ballegeer (Gary) and David O’Neill (Kathy); six grandchildren, Gail Lewis (Heath), Joe and Paul Ballegeer (Leigh Ann), Conor, Robby and Matt O’Neill and three great-grandchildren, Isabel and Wellington Lewis and Luke Ballegeer.

 Isabel was born on September 12, 1935 in San Pedro, California. She graduated from Champaign High School in 1954 and University of Illinois in 1958 with a degree in Elementary Education. Upon graduating from U of I, she taught second grade at Busey Elementary School and was married to Jerry on December 22, 1957 and enjoyed 60 years of marriage.

She was a devoted wife, as well as mother, daughter, grandparent and friend. She made for a formidable team with her husband Jerry whom she supported and helped grow the American National Bank. She had a lifelong desire to aid those challenged by deafness, especially children, and focused her energies on supporting the Echo Hearing Institute. Isabel counted her cherished friends as her family, having lost her parents as a young age. She loved fun times spent laughing and enjoying U of I tailgates, traveling, her investment club, bridge and dinners with friends and family.

 Isabel put great importance on building and sustaining traditions with her children and grandchildren which often revolved around food: fondue on Christmas Eve, dumpling Sundays and the most beloved and delicious frozen chocolate chunk cookies that brought friends and family from everywhere to her door. She always opened that door with a bright smile and welcoming words that earned her the nickname “Grandma Sunshine”. Her smile, vibrant personality and ability to make everyone feel welcomed will forever live in our hearts.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, August 17 at 11:00, with a visiting hour before the service from 10-11:00, at Saint Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive in Champaign. Monsignor Deptula will officiate the service.

A reception to celebrate Isabel’s life will follow at Silvercreek Restaurant, 402 N. Race Street, Urbana, until 3:00. 

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to ECHO Hearing Institute at 611 W. Park St, Urbana, IL 61801. Checks should be made out to Carle Center for Philanthropy/ O’Neill Fund.


Donations may be made to:

Carle Center for Philanthropy/ O'Neill Fund
611 W Park St, Urbana IL 61801
Web: http://carle.org/give


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