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Patrick O'Neill
Photo by Todd Paris
Patrick O’Neill autographs a copy of his book for a fan at Gulliver’s Books in Fairbanks.

Patrick O'Neill


Patrick O'Neill
Photo by Todd Paris
Patrick O’Neill returned to Fairbanks in June 2007 for events to promote his memoir.

Following a lifetime of jobs bearing many different titles--including janitor, pilot and chairman of the board--Patrick O'Neill added another one shortly after turning 90. He modestly says the word author itself doesn't excite him.

"But it is a good feeling of accomplishment to have a book published," he admits.

His memoir, From Snowshoes to Wingtips, encapsulates a life lived in a distinctive era of change. Born in Cordova, Alaska, the seventh of 12 children, O'Neill went to work in a mine at age 15. From there, he went on to earn several mining engineering degrees from UAF. He was chosen a distinguished alumnus by the alumni association in 1971 and the university awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1976.

O’Neill served as an Army pilot from 1941-1946, rising to the rank of major, then returned to mining in Fairbanks and South America. For years he also lived in New York and traveled around the world, serving on the board of corporations and consulting well into his 80s.

"It is a good feeling of accomplishment to have a book published."

The memoir, a retirement project, was published by the University of Alaska Press. O'Neill returned to Fairbanks from his home in Connecticut for a book promotion event in June.

"I do not believe I will have many more stories for a sequel," he said, but those who know his formidable energy have their doubts about that.

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