Nobles Directory


Mike O'Neil Retires

In 32 years, Mike O’Neil has worn every hat the Buildings and Grounds department has to offer. When trying to pin down his job title, Barbara Murphy offered, “You can say ‘painter,’ but he’s really done everything.”

He’s watched three decades of changes since he first arrived on campus. “I’ve seen all of these buildings go up,” he says. "Every two years they would build a new building.” He’s seen the school’s children grow, the campus develop and the world around it evolve.

O’Neil began his career at Nobles on June 13, 1984, his 34th birthday. A veteran of the Vietnam War and a Boston cop, he remembers “it was a whole different world back then.” On June 10, 2016, the Friday before his 66th birthday, O’Neil completed his long career at Nobles. “I made that coincidence happen,” he laughs. “I started on my birthday; I wanted to finish on my birthday. I just didn’t know which birthday it would be!”

In the long history of the school, O’Neil may have done the most jobs of any one person on campus. He was sworn in as a Dedham police officer to serve as crowd control for campus parties. He drove the bus for the ski team for five years and directed cars in the parking lots on game days. “I am the best parker of cars in this school,” he boasts. He’s also cleared trees, helped build facilities and, of course, painted every wall on campus multiple times. “The Arts Center walls are my favorite. I’m always there. Four days after I paint, the walls look like they need another coat. But I love when the kids all gather in the hallways there and yak, yak, yak.”

O’Neil counts the six-month cleanup after Hurricane Gloria and moving the Lawson House among the most memorable moments at Nobles. Lawson House was balanced between two tractor-trailer beds on top of airplane tires for the move up campus. O’Neil revels in the now legendary Nobles story: “They dropped it!” he laughs. O’Neil was one of the men who had to run down, hold the house above the mud and shuffle it back onto the trailer. Despite the major hiccup, O’Neil says the moving company did a good job. “I went in to paint after the house was settled on its new foundation. Not a single crack in any wall of that building.”

On the more normal days, O’Neil loved eavesdropping on classes while he painted. He especially enjoyed the experiments in Bob Kern’s science courses, which occasionally involved garbage can explosions and hot air balloons. “This school was never dull!” he laughs.

Beyond the hurricanes, moving mishaps and extreme experiments, O’Neil said that he will miss the people of Nobles the most. “The people are why I stayed here so long.” He remembers the first time he met Bob Henderson, during Henderson’s welcome barbeque. Henderson came over to the Buildings and Grounds team and thanked them for being the glue that holds the school together. “That stuck in my mind,” O’Neil says. “The first day I met him.”

On his last day working for Nobles, O’Neil reflected, “When I first came here, I didn’t expect that I would make my career here. I had a great run. I’ll miss it but I need to take some time.” When asked what he hopes his legacy will be, he deflects the question with a smile: “Just make sure they don’t try that airplane tire trick with a bigger building, okay?”

Noble and Greenough Community Login



Parents, click here if you've forgotten your password.

Other community members, please contact ISS.
Mike O'Neil Retirement