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In Memory

Priscilla (Peppy) Crow (O'Neill)

Priscilla (Peppy) Crow (O'Neill)

Priscilla A. O'Neill

JANUARY 16, 1943 ~ NOVEMBER 17, 2018 (AGE 75)


(nee Crow) Born January 16, 1943 in Kenosha, WI, Priscilla Ann Crow was raised surrounded by more family than many of us would be comfortable with, but which suited her to a tee.  She grew up with her parents and six siblings, and within one block of the Crows’ crowded 52nd Street home lived all four grandparents and her Haubrich cousins Joan, Tom, Jim, Gail and Todd.

 While the etymology of Priscilla’s nickname remains a source of family dispute, there is no doubt “Peppy” served as an accurate moniker for a girl who took after her mother Marion and effervescent aunts Geri, Dorothy and Harriet.  Pep was also close to her grandparents Hilda and Herman and Hazel and Harry, a veritable “4H” club.  Pep often relayed stories of them to her own kids and took pride in her Austrian, English, Polish and Danish lineage.  It was from her grandfather Herman that she inherited a lifelong love of baseball, listening to the Milwaukee Braves radio broadcasts in the summer.

 Pep matriculated in the Kenosha public school system, graduating from Mary D. Bradford High School in 1961.  In 1965, she completed her studies at UW-Madison with a degree in a journalism.  After a stint in Evanston, IL, Pep raised a family of her own, beginning in Iowa City, IA, continuing in Port Washington, and later in Milwaukee.

 Her prodigious work career included employment with the University of Wisconsin Daily Cardinal newspaper, American College Testing in Iowa City, Smith Brothers Restaurant in Port Washington, Manpower, Inc., the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, Channel 10/36 Friends and the UW - Milwaukee and UW - Parkside Alumni Associations.  She spent most of that time as an “event planner.” Gregarious, energetic and with a keen eye for detail, Pep was a natural in her line of work.  The original community organizer, Pep assembled a cadre of volunteers who followed her from event to event, and in many cases from employer to employer.

 Pep volunteered her time and talents to organizations including the Mendota Gridiron Club, the United Way and the Junior Women’s Club in Port Washington, the Milwaukee Public Libraries, and of course, as president of the Eddie Matthews Fan Club - Kenosha Chapter. She served on several boards of directors and donated to charities too numerous to name.  Additionally, Pep loved and supported the arts. She and Bruce were season ticket holders with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Milwaukee Repertory Theater and members of the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Smithsonian, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Frick Gallery.

 In 2013, her children hosted a retirement/Happy 70th surprise party (and yes, Pep was surprised) in her honor at the Charles Allis Museum.  January 16, 2013 was designated “Priscilla A. O’Neill Day” in the City of Milwaukee, the declaration read by none other than Mayor Tom Barrett himself.

 Sadly, it was not long thereafter that her husband, Bruce, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Pep, of course, went back to work; she served as Bruce’s full-time caretaker in his battle against ALS. Their journey would last two years before Bruce finally succumbed to the horrible disease. All who knew Bruce were eternally grateful for the selflessness and love Pep displayed in caring for him.

 In July 2018, many of us were allowed to return the favor as Pep herself was diagnosed with a terrible disease – inoperable brain cancer.  Pep responded to the bad news with bravery and strength, never once despairing as the disease progressed.  She instead treasured her remaining time, attending her daughter Kate’s August 10 wedding, rooting the Brewers on in their magical playoff run, and spending time with loved ones while looking forward to rejoining her beloved Bruce.  When both radiation and chemotherapy failed, the goal of the O’Neill family was to get Pep to the “finish line” with as much dignity and as little pain as possible.  We did.

 After saying goodbye to her scores and scores of loved ones and friends, on November 17, 2018, Pep peacefully drew her final breath.

 The O’Neill family would like to thank Pep’s Army: her legion of friends, family and caregivers who saw to it that Pep’s final months were meaningful, comfortable and even enjoyable.

 Pep was preceded in death by parents Gordon and Marion (nee Tanck) Crow; brothers Richard, Norbert and Donald; and husband Bruce.  Pep is survived by siblings Lori (George) Wightman, Judy (Mike) Bjorn, and Jeff (Ruby). She is further survived by her own enormous family of 32, including grateful children Hugh (Jennifer), Miles (Lauren), Kate (Toby Cadoux), Mike (Anne), Matt (Shannon), Jennifer (Doug) Sveda and Andy (Sarah).     

 Pep had a unique relationship with each of her eighteen grandchildren: Casey, Jack, Cairin (“Rinn”), Tony, Cal, Sadie, Claire, Mary, Michael, Audrey, Sylvie, Daphne, Emily, Meghan, Grace, Margaret, Genevieve and Rosemary.   

 Visitation will be held at Becker Ritter Funeral Home (14075 W. North Ave.) on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.  Additional visitation will take place at St. Sebastian Church, Milwaukee (5400 W. Washington Blvd.) on Nov. 30 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., followed by a prayer service and luncheon.  Private Interment to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, Milwaukee.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Cancer Society or the ALS Association of Wisconsin.

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11/28/18 01:12 PM #20    

Royanne Last (Moon)

 Peppy, a gracious soul.  I shall always remember her smile.

11/28/18 01:33 PM #21    

Wayne Graf

The great number of In Memory comments for Peppy lend credence to all the wonderful words said about her.  I know that as she is looking down and reading these, she has that great smile on her face! Sadly missed, but at peace.

11/28/18 04:45 PM #22    

Thomas Geary

Peppy was an extraordinary person.  I don't think she became one; I'm pretty sure she always was.  I'm proud to have known her.

12/01/18 10:17 AM #23    

Marilyn Copen (Birky)

I will always remember her wonderful smile, she was such a fun person. You can tell by the words of her life that she was a blessing to many people.  We will meet again.Sorry for your loss.

12/05/18 04:35 PM #24    

Suzette Arnoldini (Englund)

I have been waiting for some inspirational lightening bolt to hit me so I could write something deserving and full of honor for our amazing classmate Peppy. But sad to say, I lack good writing skills.  To do justice to someone like Peppy is difficult.  She was simply the best. The obituary of her life speaks volumes about the person she was and of all she accomplished.  Most important to Peppy would be the love her family had for her, that comes through in the obituary so well.  It was such a priviledge to know Peppy.  Such an unselfish, kind, thoughtful and endearing peson was our classmate.  She had such a  beauful face, infectious smile and was so friendly to all.  She sure lived a full and good llife and I only wish she had many more years.  Rest in peace Peppy.  I will always remember you with love and affection.      

12/15/18 01:57 PM #25    

Paul Haubrich (Haubrich)

I grew up about 6 blocks from Peppy's house and we shared a cousin in common (Tom Haubrich), however she went to public school and I to parochial and thus our paths didn't cross till high school.   I remeber her smile and seemingly easy style of making one feel comfortable.  Our paths did not cross again until she began to work for the UWM Alumni Association some time in the 1990s.  Her smile was still the same, she was very comfortable with who she was and enjoyed life with a postive outlook, no complaints from Peppy.  What I learned about her in these past years is that she was alway gracious toward others and she enjoyed people and their lives.  Her smile will always remain with me as well as her acceptance of life and doing it well.


10/16/19 04:16 PM #26    

Rita Martino (Ginocchio)

Today I thought about Peppy Crow. Just out of the blue, there she was in my mind. We're getting close to the one year anniversary of her leaving us. I guess I remember it because it was getting colder outside and I wanting to visit her before snow became a problem.
I never made it. The day before I was going, I bought flowers and a bag of genetti cookies from Paielli's Bakery. Two things I love most :- ) But plans fell thru with my driver and another opportunity never came again.
I can add to the many accolades written about our dear friend but I know everyone knew how special she was. I have a favorite memory from Jr. High. An embarrassing moment that had it been me, I would have convinced my parents to move to another town. Maybe another State. But class act that she was, she took it in stride and amazingly, not another thing was mentioned about the situation !
I remember also one particular talk she gave to the class that her Aunts were members of the D.A.R. and hoped to become a member too. I had to go look that one up next time in the library. I think my relatives arrived in America on the same boat...but in steerage !
And didnt Peppy have the best two names? Priscilla...so top drawer and "Peppy"...which defined her most of the time:- ) ! Either way, she was well known and well liked. In her personal life she was brilliant and achieved much to be proud of but you never felt looked down on by her. If anything, she made you feel like you were the one who was so special.
We will miss her at our future reunions, that enormous smile and sparkling eyes as well as others who have gone on. But today, on this crisp Fall day, I am thinking of you, Peppy. Thanks for the years of memories and your friendship. You definitely will never be forgotten. And that's the best achievement of all !

10/17/19 12:11 PM #27    

James Szantor

Thanks for such a touching tribute to Peppy, Rita.  I, too, think of her often, especially when I drive by her building (HarborChase) on Capitol Drive in MIlwaukee, which occurs quite often. It's always a poignant moment, one that reminds me to try to be the kind of person she was.  One of my co-residents at Eastcastle Place, one Larry Hammond (nephew of the late Kenosha Mayor Eugene Hammond), knew Peppy through her husband, Bruce O'Neill.  Larry was president of the Milwaukee Bar Association, and Bruce was a onetime Attorney of the Year in this city..  And as I think I mentioned after attending the wake, the first person we saw at the funeral home was Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett--the same Mayor Barrett who had proclaimed Jan. 16, 2013, as Priscilla A. O'Neill Day in Milwaukee, so obviously Peppy touched many lives in the most positive of ways.   You hear people say after a loved one's death that "He or she is in a better place."  I think this mortal coil would be a better place if she was still here.

10/19/19 06:25 PM #28    

Tom Haubrich

Thank you Rita for your thoughtful comment's about Peppy.  Peppy kept her beartiful smile with a positive attitude through her adversity...!  Picture was taken late September 2018.



10/19/19 06:39 PM #29    

Bernard Covelli

Peppy was an extraordinary person. Grew up with her at Bain school, renewed our friendship in high school and again at Parkside taking post graduate work, we renewed our friendship without a bump in time. I truly know how wonderful and joy of a friendship it was. RIP Pep♥️

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