Retired UW-Platteville broadcasting professor dies

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An educator who was instrumental in creating and building the communications program at UW-Platteville has died.

Dr. John N. O’Neill helped design the university’s television and radio broadcasting facilities and major. He died Saturday at the age of 84.

According to his obituary, O’Neill taught for 34 years at UW-Platteville and had an impact on thousands of students. He was UW-Platteville’s Director of TV Services, advised students in the installation of cable television on campus and was integrally involved in the TV-5 Christmas Telethon benefiting Wisconsin Badger Camp.

O’Neill graduated from Milton Union High School and received his degree in industrial education from Wisconsin State University-Platteville in 1966. He earned his master’s degree in audio visual communications from Stout State University in 1967 and in 1971 he received his doctorate in education from the University of Northern Colorado.

He also had an entrepreneurial spirit and founded Agri-Sat in the 1980’s which was the nation’s first agricultural satellite television network as well as Niall Enterprises which installed cable television in Whitewater, Fitchburg, and eight communities in southwest Wisconsin. Later in the 1990’s, Niall Enterprises obtained a grant from the government to develop an air traffic awareness display for pilots to see while flying.

O’Neill received the Educator of the Year award from The Society of Broadcast Engineers in 1992. In 2000, he received UWP Professor Emeritus status and later in 2013 was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus Award from UW-Platteville.

He was active in his community with the Belmont Lions Club, Belmont Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and Belmont Fair Stunt Committee.

Mass of Christian burial will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8 at St. Philomena Catholic Church, Belmont. Burial will be at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Belmont. Visitation will be held from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7 at the Melby Funeral Home and Crematory, Platteville, and will continue on Friday from 10 a.m. until the time of mass at the church. Online condolences can be made at