SMU remembers William J. O’Neil ’55
The University mourns the loss of SMU alumnus, benefactor and friend William J. O’Neil ’55, who passed away on May 28, 2023, at the age of 90. A recipient of the Cox School of Business’s 1999 Distinguished Alumni Award, O’Neil is remembered across the country for his investment prowess, his dedication to his family and his enduring support for higher education, journalism and research.
“Our campus is saddened by the loss of Bill O’Neil, whose passionate advocacy for our faculty and students has inspired generations of journalists and business leaders,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are honored to celebrate his memory through the students that his generosity continues to impact.”
Born in Oklahoma City, O’Neil came to the Hilltop as an undergraduate student in the Cox School of Business, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing. While a student at SMU, he was an active member of the community, serving as the president of the Delta Sigma Phi business fraternity and as a member of the SMU varsity baseball team, the Mustang Band, the Student Marketing Club and the Methodist Student Movement. Beginning his professional career as a stockbroker at Hayden Stone and Co. in Los Angeles, California, O’Neil went on to become the founder and chairman of William O’Neil + Company, a group of investment information companies. One of the youngest individuals to purchase a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, O’Neil utilized his passion for market research and his analytical prowess to further his career, becoming one of the first individuals to use computers to collect vital stock information.
In addition to his prolific career as an entrepreneur, O’Neil was also a respected author, penning several best-selling books on investing and the stock market, including How To Make Money In Stocks: A Winning System In Good Times Or Bad, 24 Essential Lessons for Investment Success, The Successful Investor and The Model Book of Greatest Stock Market Winners. In 1984, he founded Investor’s Business Daily, a research and reporting publication aimed at “leveling the playing field between Wall Street and Main Street.” Since its founding, the company has expanded into a print and digital enterprise with a heavy focus on the stock market, international business affairs and global economics.
“The Cox School of Business will be forever grateful for the enduring and inspiring support of Bill O’Neil,” said Edwin L. Cox School of Business Dean Matthew Myers. “We were proud that Bill was a graduate of our business school. He will be deeply missed by his fellow alumni and by the thousands of individuals that he inspired to invest in their futures and to pursue their lifelong goals.”
O’Neil maintained a close relationship with the SMU community throughout his life, leading to several initiatives and programs across campus. Joint recipients of the highly esteemed Mustang Award in 2012, William O’Neil and his wife, Fay C. O’Neil, have been strong supporters of the University’s mission to educate and shape future leaders. Among the couple’s notable SMU contributions are the William J. O’Neil Chair in Business Journalism, the William J. O’Neil Chair in Global Markets and Freedom, the O’Neil Visiting Professor/Executive-in-Residence Program, the Fay S. O’Neil Endowed Journalism Scholarship and several MBA scholarships.
Beyond SMU, William and Fay O’Neil’s philanthropic contributions have had widespread impact throughout the country, establishing the WJO Foundation together to support their various charitable interests. In recognition of his many achievements, William O’Neil was named one of the Top 100 Business Luminaries of the Century by TJFR Group and MasterCard International, and was honored with the Spirit of Lincoln award from the Lincoln Club of Los Angeles for his contributions to society.
William O’Neil is survived by his wife Fay C. O’Neil, his son William “Scott” O’Neil, his daughter-in-law Shala O’Neil and his granddaughters Brittany O’Neil ’17 and Lauren O’Neil.