Physician, eternal optimist, church musician, Slicer, LaPortean. More than 400 gather to honor Dr. Tamara O’Neal

WNLP photos by Mike Kellems and Bob Wellinski

While a heartbreaking event, it also became a uniting and uplifting community event. Nearly 500 family members, friends and complete strangers gathered at LaPorte’s First Church of God Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, to honor the life of Dr. Tamara O’Neal. In what can best be described as a grand celebration of Dr. O’Neal’s life, the service included beautiful music as well as several people who spoke about their lost friend and family member in glowing terms. They described the 1998 LaPorte High School graduate as a devoted follower of Christ who “loved helping people” and “had a heart of gold.” The tragic events that took Dr. O’Neal’s life drew nationwide attention, and that continued at the funeral service: Nearly a dozen media trucks representing news outlets from Chicago and South Bend took the first row of parking at the church. The two-hour service was followed by a procession that led from the church on East Lincolnway along the county roads to Pine Lake Cemetery. Police officers blocked off Severs Road between Ind. 39 and U.S. 35 so that the nearly 100 vehicles could park and easily access the cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Christian Fellowship Worship Center, 2468 N. Ind. 39, LaPorte, IN 46350; and 

Dr. O’Neal’s father gets a hug. (Wellinski)

(2 photos above:) Grieving attendees say their final goodbyes at the cemetery. (Wellinski)

The casket leaves the church after the moving service. (Wellinski)

The procession, led by the Haverstock’s funeral vehicle, arrives at Pine Lake Cemetery on Severs Road. Local police closed the road so funeral goers could more easily park and access the cemetery. (Kellems)

First Church of God Pastor Jeff Ziegler greets Dr. O’Neal’s mother and father as the family arrives at the church. (Kellems)

A tear is gently wiped away from a young funeral goer’s face outside the church. (Kellems)

Pallbearers move Dr. O’Neal’s casket to the funeral coach following the service. (Kellems)

Denise O’Neal, Tamara’s aunt, sings with the choir during the service. (Wellinski)

Medical colleagues of Dr. O’Neal talk about her leadership, spirit and inspiration. (Wellinski)

Pallbearers carry the casket to the gravesite. (Wellinski)

The gravesite procession. (Kellems)

A view from the back of the packed church. (Wellinski)

Caroline Maslankowski, a middle school classmate of Tamara’s in LaPorte, shares a sweet memory of home-ec adventures with her friend. (Wellinski)

3 Responses to “Physician, eternal optimist, church musician, Slicer, LaPortean. More than 400 gather to honor Dr. Tamara O’Neal”

  1. Anita M. Way

    Nov 30. 2018

    My heart breaks for the family. Glenda, Tom, Pastor Terry, Kal and so many others I know and love. I am so sorry I could not be there but bronchitis got hold of me and I had a doctor’s appointment. I will treasure the memories I have of times with you all at church. The singing, LaTisha’s wedding and so much more. I love and cherish you, my extended family.
    May you be comforted by the Promises of God for a life together again.
    In His Holy Name, Jesus!
    Sincerely and with heartfelt love,
    Anita M. Way

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  2. Kathryn Stransky

    Nov 30. 2018

    I lost my daughter at 35 to a massive heart attack. The pain is real, at 5, 35, or 65 we are not suppose to lose our child. I too had no grandchild from her, and I felt cheated. But a couple years has brought me to appreciate that a child didn’t have to lose a mom, and grow up with the heavy loss on their little shoulders.I still shed tears and.miss my Christmas present.

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  3. Wanda Akins

    Dec 01. 2018

    Tom & Glenda O’Neal my heart aches for your loss. As I sat & watched the slide show on Thursday evening, all I could say was WOW Tammy had an infectious smile on every picture that was shown. Hold on cousin to her smile, she was truly one of God’s Angels . Chosen from the start as one of God’s true servant for the Lord. Be oh so very PROUD of the path that she led, everything that she DID was from what was instilled in her, by you two as parents. Tammy ran the race and she finished it in 1st place. ALL is not lost .
    Dr. Tamara O’Neal ~Rest -n-Perfect Peace ?
    Love you cousin.

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