Woodside horseman Robert Francis O'Neil, known as Bob or Boots, died on Saturday, March 5, at his home in Woodside, where he had lived since the 1960s. He was 92.
Mr. O'Neil was born and raised in San Mateo. After serving in the US Navy during WWII, he attended San Jose State and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He combined his lifelong passion for horses with a career that spanned over 50 years with the California Racing Association, mainly at Bay Meadows.
Mr. O'Neil was involved in many local horse activities, including the Los Altos Hunt, the Los Altos Pony Club, and Woodside's Day of the Horse; he also served on the board of the Woodside Trail Club. He has been honored by the town, the Day of the Horse and the Mounted Patrol for his activities.
Mr. O'Neil also became involved with show business through his horse connections. He was interviewed in 2003 for the documentary "Seabiscuit: The Story Begins in San Francisco." He appeared in "Bay Area Backroads" featuring Woodside's trails, and also appears as a commentator in the 2011 film "The Last Days at Bay Meadows."
Family members say he also enjoyed rooting for his favorite teams, the Giants and 49ers, with friends who would stop by for a visit.
He is survived by nieces Jean Yates, Joan Yates, Judy Kawamoto, and Kathy Ramsey, along with his great-nieces and nephews, many cousins, and longtime friend and companion Katy Farquharson
A visitation is set for 4:30 p.m. and a vigil for 6 p.m. Sunday, March 13, at Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home, 977 South El Camino Real in San Mateo.
A funeral Mass is set for 10 a.m. Monday, March 14, at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1 Notre Dame Avenue, San Mateo.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions in Mr. O'Neil's name go to the University of California, Davis Center for Equine Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, One Shield Avenue, Davis, CA 95616-8589.
● You can leave a remembrance on the Almanac's Lasting Memories page.