Michael De Feo
Michael De Feo, a longtime Rye resident, and licensed massage therapist in town, died January 9, surrounded by family. He was 74.
Licensed in New York State for 46 years and a sole practitioner in Rye for the past 38 years, Mr. De Feo took great pride in relieving thousands of clients from pain and stress. Generous with his time, strength, and kindness, his touch reached far beyond his business to his many relatives and friends in the local community.
“Michele” De Feo was born in Santo Stefano del Sole, Avellino, Italy, to Natale and Michelina (Renzulli) De Feo, the fifth of eight children, and grew up on the family farm. During World War II, the Germans seized their home and converted it into a regional headquarters, which was then bombed by the Allies.
His parents rebuilt, but then the entire family found their way to America. He was 15 when they arrived, and attended Saunders High School.
Mr. De Feo proudly enlisted in the Air National Guard and served from 1957-1962. In 1961, he served in Germany. He earned an associate’s degree in Applied Mechanics from Westchester Community College in 1959.
Upon returning from Germany, Mr. De Feo worked independently as a mechanic, repairing sheet metal cutting machinery in the New York City area. The job caused him severe back pain and in lieu of surgery, he traveled to Jamaica for rest and recovery at the beach. It was there he met a ‘masseur’ who had treated John F. Kennedy, for one, and this persuaded him to try this alternative treatment.
Restored to health after therapy and exercise, Mr. De Feo was inspired to pursue training at the Swedish Institute in New York. He graduated in 1967 and became the 258th licensed massage therapist in New York State. He went on to become trained in shiatsu and reflexology.
It was through his work at the European Health Spa that he was introduced to his future wife, Anna, on a blind date organized by mutual friends. In 1975, the couple moved to Rye, where he built a house with his brother Guy, a local contractor.
Mr. De Feo enjoyed gardening, making homemade wine each year, tending his fruit trees, repairing the house and cars, and playing with his many grandchildren on the backyard trampoline.
Last year, he was awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership by the New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists, and is quoted as saying: “A person who gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and enjoys what he/she does during the day is a successful person,’ and that is exactly how I feel.”
He is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, Anna; his children: Michael De Feo, Michelle (Jonathan) Gould, Roberto (Debra) De Feo, Nicole De Feo, and Christine (Rob) Krelekamp; his sister, Frances Laurino; his brothers Carmine, Silvio, Cesare, and Val; and many grandchildren. He was predeceased by two of his brothers, Gaetano and Pierino.
Donations in Mr. De Feo’s memory may be made to the International Myeloma Foundation (www.myeloma.org).
Marvin Pierce II
Marvin Pierce II of Pensacola, Florida, died of pneumonia on January 23. He was 60.
He was born in Greenwich, on April 2, 1952 to James Robinson Pierce and Margaret Dyer Pierce. Pete, as he was known, grew up in Rye, Cross River, Katonah, and Malibu, Calif. He attended Bedford Rippowam School and Kent School, before graduating from John Jay High School. After high school, he attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
In the early 1980s, he and his family moved to Pensacola, where he resided until his death.
Admired for his athletic ability, Mr. Pierce enjoyed playing sports with his daughters, father, brothers, cousins, and friends, as well as hunting and fishing with his father. He was also a music lover. As he grew up, he was always searching for answers to life’s elusive questions. He was a man who no doubt has found peace.
He is survived by his two daughters, Keenan Kelly Pierce of Indianapolis and Shevlin Keig Pierce of Orlando; his former wife, Melinda Bailey of Gulf Breeze, Fla.; his mother, Margie Pierce of Rye; his sister, Peggy Pierce Peters and her husband Jono of Rye; his brothers, James Robinson Pierce Jr. and his wife Dabney of Houston, and Scott Pierce III and his wife Stephanie, also of Houston; and ten nieces and nephews. Mr. Pierce was predeceased by his father, James Robinson Pierce, and his brother, Robinson Dyer Pierce.
Mr. Pierce was a lover of animals and would be pleased to see charitable donations in his name given to a charity to help animals in need.
A gathering for his family and friends will be held at his sister’s home in Rye on February 9.
James J. O’Neal
James J. O’Neal, a longtime Rye resident, passed away peacefully January 25 surrounded by his family.
Born in St. Louis on August 1, 1921, he was the son of Charles C. and Elizabeth Dooley O’Neal. After graduating from St. Louis University High, he went to Notre Dame University, where he became senior class president and won the Notre Dame DOME Award. He enrolled in US Naval Officer School during college and served during World War II on the USS Canfield in the Sea of Japan.
Mr. O’Neal had a long and successful career in advertising, beginning in St. Louis, which brought him to New York in 1955 to work for D’Arcy and Campbell-Ewald as a top executive. He also served as Chairman of D’Arcy International. He worked as the lead executive on major national and international accounts such as Olin, Bermuda, Lufthansa, GMAC, and General Motors, before retiring from Campbell-Ewald as Group Executive Vice President in 1986. He continued as an executive, working with WGCH, Greenwich until 2007.
A devout Catholic, Mr. O’Neal attended Mass daily, serving for many years as the Daily Sacristan at the Chapel at St. Vincent’s, Harrison. He was also a Knight of the Order of Malta. Mr. O’Neal served on a number of fundraising committees, notably with Convent of the Sacred Heart as chair of the building committee in the early 1970s.
He married Mary Tierney, also of St. Louis. They were married for 68 years. He cared for her at home through a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She passed away in 2010.
Mr. O’Neal is survived by his seven children: Sally Maloney of Greenwich, Ellen Walsh of Wellesley Hills, Mass., Mary Davidson of Rye, Kathy Wasilko of Greenwich, Peggy Shepard of Rye, Nancy Holloway of Springfield, Mass., and Jim O’Neal Jr. of Stamford; 19 grandchildren; and 24 great-grandchildren. Mr. O’Neal was predeceased by his three sisters: Elizabeth Cramer, Florence Burns, and Ellen Tipton.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held January 30 at The Church of the Resurrection, followed by a private family burial.
Donations in Mr. O’Neal’s memory may be made to the Mary T. O’Neal Scholarship Fund, Convent of the Sacred Heart, 1177 King Street, Greenwich, CT 08630.