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Former teacher enjoyed ‘every bit’ of his career

For the past few weeks, teachers and students alike have traded in their summer schedules for the earlier mornings and lengthier days of the academic year.

Forrest O’Neal’s teaching and coaching career was full of seemingly endless days, which often began with team practice before school.

When he taught physical education at the junior high school, “I got up at six, got to the junior high and opened the doors at seven,” Forrest remembers.

Back then, he coached football, track and basketball. By the time after-school practices and games were over, he would have put in yet another 12-hour day.

But he didn’t mind.

“I enjoyed every bit of it,” Forrest said. “Every day, I was prepared to teach and help young people. I felt that that’s what God wanted me to do.”

The Rolla Presbyterian Manor resident has fond memories of his lengthy and varied career in the Rolla public schools. In addition to PE, he taught American history and driver’s education.

After many years teaching and coaching from elementary school to high school, Forrest transferred to the cooperative occupation education program at the vocational school, which is where he worked until his retirement from teaching at the age of 58.

Forrest continued working in various jobs, including as an advertising sales manager. For three sessions, he served as a doorkeeper at the Missouri Senate building. His wife Alice worked as an assistant to former Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan for 35 years, until his death in a plane crash in 2000.

Both Forrest and Alice retired not long after Carnahan’s death. This month, they celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, a long run that Forrest credits to always putting each other first. They have one daughter, Susan.

“We have always tried to do things that God loves us to do, and to keep him close by,” Forrest said.

Among other things, they have always been active in their church, and they taught Sunday school for many years.

“I have had good life and I feel like the good Lord has been good to us,” Forrest said.

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