C. WILLIAM O’NEILL was born in Marietta, Ohio. While in high school, he was a member of a debate team that won a national tournament. He received an undergraduate degree from Marietta College and a law degree from Ohio State University, after which he joined his father’s law firm. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives for more than a decade, winning reelection while in the Army in Europe during World War II and serving as both Speaker and Minority Leader for a time. After the war, O’Neill taught political science at Marietta College. In 1950 he was named one of our country’s outstanding young men by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce, and that same year won election as Attorney General of Ohio. When he became governor, he changed the concept of highway construction from maintaining short sections to developing freeways and divided highways. Brown strongly supported a proposed “right-to-work” amendment to the Ohio Constitution, which was roundly defeated and contributed to his defeat for reelection. O’Neill returned to the private practice of law, served briefly as a professor of public affairs at Bethany College in West Virginia, and in 1960 won election to the Ohio Supreme Court, of which he became Chief Justice. He remained on the Court until his death.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.