Home > St. Louis Co. Comm. Steve O'Neil's Cancer Fight Worsens
St. Louis Co. Comm. Steve O'Neil's Cancer Fight Worsens
FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT
Friday, July 12, 2013 - 10:44pm
Duluth, MN -
DULUTH - Political leaders, family and friends were all preparing to say their goodbyes Friday to St. Louis County Commissioner Steve O'Neil who's battling an aggressive form of Thyroid Cancer.Friday, FOX 21's Dan Hanger was set to sit down with Steve and his family for a final interview to highlight his long list of accomplishments involving social justice and public health in the county.But his wife, Angie, called Hanger just hours before the interview to say Steve's condition had significantly gotten worse.So instead, as Steve rested at home Friday night, his colleagues and friends spoke for him."What's really remarkable about Steve is the person he is," said Duluth Mayor Don Ness.It's pretty difficult to find anyone who doesn't respect, adore and, frankly, love long-time Steve O'Neil."In many ways, I think Steve kind of represents the sole of our conscience of our community," Ness said.For Ness and so many others, Steve is a man of integrity, honesty and has been the voice for the homeless, low income and mentally ill for decades."...His values and just how grounded he is in doing what's right, and I think that's what people love about Steve and what really makes him a remarkable person," Ness said.But that remarkable person is preparing his final weeks -- if not days -- to live, as an aggressive form of thyroid cancer takes over his body."He's really the heart of our organization ... advocacy for the last 14 years, long before I got here," said Lee Stuart, exec. director of CHUM homeless shelter in Duluth.Stuart said Steve has been that voice on the county board and throughout the state for those who are heartlessly ignored."The people who are not welcome in many parts of Duluth ... They're right there and he's in solidarity and will stand with them and represent that point of view. He will bring them present. He will put them out in the world and make them part of the conversation," Stuart said.And in that conversation, it's safe to say at 62 years old, Steve O'Neil has touched more lives and changed the face of homelessness in St. Louis County more than anyone will ever do in a lifetime."He's a friend, he's a mentor, he's an example ... and now he's showing us how to live and how to love and in due time, say goodbye," Stuart said."I think we can be very thankful that our community has benefited from his leadership and his involvement over so many years and has made Duluth a better place," Ness said.Besides caring for his wife Angie, son Brendan and daughter Bri, Steve has also been a foster parent to 25 children over nine years.Meanwhile Friday night, family is hoping Steve will stay strong for his 63rd birthday happening this Monday, July 15.