Ruth A. (Smith) O’Neil was born in Schenectady, NY, on January 22, 1950, the youngest of four children of Melvin and Mertie Smith. She peacefully passed away in Ridgecrest on March 1, 2023, following a 26-month fight with glioblastoma. In 1960, Ruth moved from upstate New York to Ridgecrest with her family. She graduated from Burroughs High School in 1968 and attended San Diego State University (SDSU), where she earned a degree in Mathematics. Ruth moved back to Ridgecrest and worked as a computer scientist at China Lake as a summer employee, where she met her husband, Scott O’Neil. She then became a full-time employee, working in the Environmental Lab and later in the Navigation Lab.
Ruth married Scott on March 2, 1974, and together they have five children. Following their first daughter’s birth, Ruth became a full-time “Mommy.” She was extremely active in their children’s education, and the family joked that Ruth graduated high school “six times.” Ruth firmly believed that a well-rounded education included being part of a team, so she required all their children to participate in a sport.
“Ruthie” was an avid tennis player, walking on at SDSU and competing in the NCAA tournament in doubles at Auburn University. She dominated the China Lake Tennis Club women’s ranks for many years. In the late ’70s, she began competing in the men’s division, occasionally winning tournaments. Ruth shared her love of the sport by giving lessons to her children and many other local kids. She also enjoyed helping coach boys’ and girls’ tennis at Burroughs High School.
Ruth enjoyed a variety of hobbies, including sewing, crocheting, music, and gardening, but her absolute favorite thing was to spend time with Scott, her “chickadees,” and other loved ones. Ruth’s life was also faith-filled. She was a long-time St. Ann Catholic Church member and an active volunteer at St. Ann School, coaching fifth-grade basketball and serving in the Kindergarten classroom with Mrs. Ostermann.
Ruth is preceded in death by her father, Melvin, and her brother, John. She is survived by her mother, Mertie, brother Arthur, sister Jane, John’s wife, Valerie, and their six children. She is also survived by her husband Scott; children Lisa (Kurt Katzenstein), Erin (Ryan Kelly), Rory (Cassie Shoaf), Katie (Matt Wadley), and Joanna (Jacob Rock); and 15 grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to St. Ann School.
Viewing and Rosary services will be at Holland and Lyons Mortuary on Wednesday evening, March 8, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Funeral will be at St. Ann Catholic Church Thursday, March 9, at 10:00 a.m. Burial and reception to follow immediately. All the O’Neil family, friends, and acquaintances are welcome.