The College of Community Health Sciences sponsored the first Dr. Joe W. and Virginia Hursey O’Neal Endowed Lecture in October 2009. Joe O’Neal, MD, established the fund to honor the memory of his wife and to support the Endowed Lecture Series.
Virginia Hursey O’Neal was born in Indiana in 1924. After graduating from high school in 1942, she enrolled in the Wesley Memorial Hospital Nursing Program, served in the Nurse Cadet Corps during World War II and received a nursing degree in 1946 from Northwestern University. She then worked as a pediatric nurse until entering the nurse anesthetist school at the Medical College of Alabama in Birmingham in 1952, where she met her soon-to-be husband. After graduating and marrying in 1953, she worked as a nurse anesthetist at South Highlands Hospital and then as head of the pediatric nursery at the Medical College of Alabama before moving to Tuscaloosa in 1960.
Joe W. O’Neal, MD, a retired general surgeon, began his pre-medical education at the University of Alabama in 1942. His studies were interrupted by World War II and he served three years in the U.S. Marine Corps before returning to the University, where he was awarded a bachelor’s in Biology in 1949. He proceeded to the Medical College of Alabama in Birmingham where he received his medical degree in 1954. After completing his residency, he and his wife returned to Tuscaloosa to open a private practice.
Once in Tuscaloosa,Virginia Hursey O’Neal was active her in husband’s surgical practice and became involved in many civic and religious organizations. Together with her husband, she raised five children, four of whom earned degrees at The University of Alabama. In 2001, after a courageous battle with breast cancer, she passed away. Through this endowment,Joe W. O’Neal wishes to support the teaching of cancer prevention and early detection at the College, and to honor the memory of his wife.