WILLIAM A. O'NEILL was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was educated at New Britian Teachers College and the University of Hartford. He served as a combat flier with the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and is a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was elected to six terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives and served as majority leader from 1975 to 1976 and 1977 to 1978. He was House assistant minority leader and assistant majority leader. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1978. He became governor on December 31, 1980, when the former governor resigned due to health issues. He was then elected to a four-year term as governor and reelected in 1986. He chaired the Coalition of Northeastern Governors and the New England Governors' Conference and was president of the Council of State Governments.