Neva 0. Oneal Thornhill left her earthly home to go to her eternal home on Friday November 11, 2016 with her family nearby.
Neva D Oneal was born in Bogard, Missouri to Elmer and Emma (Bunney) Oneal. Paternal grandparents were Philander and Emma Oneal. Maternal grandparents were Winfield and Leora (Lyons) Bunney. Neva was the last of three children Nellie Oneal Well was the eldest followed by Nelson B. Oneal. The Elmer Oneals moved from Bogard, Missouri while Neva D was a toddler. They purchased a family farm in Carrollton, Mo. which is still in existence today.
Neva D (this how she was addressed by family and friends) grew up on the farm with her siblings. Neva D attended Vanhorn Methodist Church with her parents and she was a member of the 4-H club. During her elementary school years she attended classes in a one room school houses, (the Baker school and the Whipperwill school) for grades one through eight. After completing the eighth grade Neva D. went on to Carrollton High School. After graduation from Carrollton H.S. she was accepted to Research Hospital School of Nursing in Kansas City Missouri. Following nursing school Neva attended other institutions of higher education Baylor University Texas, University Of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska, and Mercy College New York, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree.
Neva D. began her nursing career working at Research Hospital Kansas City MO. and Leavenworth Veterans Administration Hospital, Leavenworth KS. In 1955 she entered the United States Air Force Nursing Corps where she was commissioned as a 1st LT. She attended basic military training and after completion was enrolled in the Air Force Flight Nursing School and graduated as a flight nurse. Her duty stations included Maxwell AFB Alabama, Waco AFB Texas, Gunther AFB Alabama, Ladd AFB Alaska, and Richards Gabour AFB Missouri. Neva enjoyed the time she spent in the air force and her duty as a flight nurse transporting injured and sick military personnel from various outposts to a major hospital. She always had a desire to fly and even considered becoming a flight attendant prior to joining the Air Force, Neva enjoyed her service as flight nurse so much that she decided to make it her career. While stationed at Ladd AFB. Alaska she met Melvin her future husband who changed her mind. After 4 years in the Air Force Neva D worked at the Manhattan New York and the Bronx New York Veterans Administration Hospitals. She retired from the Bronx V.A. hospital having completed 33 years in the Veterans Administration Hospital system.
On June 4, 1960 Neva D, Oneal was joined in marriage to Melvin Douglas Thornhill. From that union they had two children, Denice Marcell Thornhill and Melvyn Douglas Thornhill II. During their 56 years of marriage she lived in Brooklyn N.Y., Mount Vernon N.Y. and Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. While the children were growing up, and after retirement Neva travelled with her family, to places in the west and mid-west, the east coast, the Caribbean, and back to Alaska. In rare moments when she could relax, she would make her own clothes, make bedspreads and quilts for Melvin and the children, embroider pillowcases and handkerchiefs for gifts. Neva was a loving wife, mother and friend.
Neva's religious life began in the Van Horn Methodist Church in Bogard, Missouri, where she was a member and attended church until moving from the area. She attended services at a local chapel in Kansas City Ks. Where she decided to be baptized by immersion. She also attended the military chapels while serving in the air force. After her marriage she joined the Baptist church and was active on committees at the Trinity Baptist Church in Brooklyn N.Y. and also at the First Baptist Church of Mount Vernon N.Y. where she served as a Deaconess on the Deacons, a member of the Board of Christian Education an In 1988 she was selected and honored as the Church woman of the year. After Melvin's retirement they became fulltime residents of Martha's Vineyard where she and Melvin became members of The First Baptist Church of Vineyard Haven and Neva served on the missions committee.
During the 56 years and 5 months of their marriage Neva D. and Melvin were inseparable, you very rarely saw one without the other. Neva and her dry sense of humor will be missed by many. She leaves to mourn her husband, Melvin, daughter Denice, son Melvyn (M.D.), daughter in law Phyllis and a host of relatives and friends.
Neva D. donated her body to Tufts University School of Medical Sciences. Boston, MA.
A celebration of life service will take place in April at the First Baptist Church, 407 New Rochelle Road, Bronxville, NY with a repast to follow. When her body returns to the Island there will be a local service and burial with Military Honors.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Neva’s name to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, PO Box 1748; or The First Baptist Church of Vineyard Haven, PO Box 806; or The American Legion Post 257, PO Box 257, all in Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, PO Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 or the Gay Head Community Baptist Church, PO Box 806, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or the VNA of Cape Cod and the Islands, 255 Independence Drive, Hyannis, MA 02601.