WILMINGTON- Karen Schulte O’Neill, 64, died suddenly and peacefully on February 2, in her new forever home. A beloved wife, momma, friend, educator, and potter, she always knew what to say, when to give a big hug, and how to make people laugh.
Karen was born in Morristown, NJ, to Harry and Betty Schulte. She went to Rumson Fair Haven High School in New Jersey, then earned a bachelor of science degree in environmental studies and education from Saint Lawrence University in upstate New York.
She lived for a time in Brooklyn and Washington DC working in the nonprofit space and then moved back home to New Jersey where she met her husband Shawn O’Neill. They were neighbors in a farmhouse, and got married April 29, 1989, with her dog Bear by her side. During that time, she landed a big technical writing job where she met friends she would know and love for life. She then became a stay-at-home mom, and continued making pottery.
Later in life, Karen returned to school and received her master’s degree in student affairs and college counseling from Monmouth University. She worked at Brookdale Community College with EOF students from underrepresented backgrounds, championing them through their transition from high school to college in her first position, and ushering them through the GED program she ran in her second position.
Karen was over the moon to have made the big move to her dream home in Vermont with her husband and band of chickens. Shawn and she made the most amazing group of friends quickly, and had so much fun organizing game nights and dinners together. She was able to make pottery in the studio of her dreams and her pieces were sold in the local markets and stores.
She had it all, a fabulous laugh, wit, and a heart of gold. She uplifted her friends and family every day, supporting and loving people where they were at. She was a force of love, fun, smarts, and kindness and she will be so very missed.
Karen’s immediate family includes her husband of 34 years Shawn O’Neill; her son Gregory O’Neill; and daughter Molly O’Neill. She is survived by her brother Pete Schulte and sister-in-law Carol Schulte; sister Sue Russoniello and brother-in-law Paul Russoniello; niece Megan Bencen; and nephews Jamie Russoniello, Chris Russoniello, and Devon Schulte.
The family will hold a celebration of life in the spring when the weather turns and would love to have friends and family there with her people. Details will follow. Until then, memories and photos of any pottery she made can be shared with friends and family on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ksoneill.