Sue O'Neill Johnson (September 23, 1939 - September 27, 2007)                    Memorial Wiki


Sue Snyder O’Neill Johnson was born on September 23, 1939 in Chicago, but soon moved to Riverside, Connecticut where she grew up in a very supportive family and environment. She attended the Greenwich Academy, graduating in 1957. She did her BA studies at Connecticut College and Boston University, majoring in government. Later, she studied library and information science at the University of Pittsburgh where she obtained an MLS; and, later still, studied public administration at American University where she received an MPA in 1989.

Following her marriage to Dr Richard Patrick O’Neill in 1960 (they divorced in 1978), Sue moved to Lexington, Kentucky where she lived from 1964 to 1984. While raising four children, she worked for the Lexington Public Library, first as a volunteer fund-raiser and then as the first professional manager of public relations in which she was instrumental in increasing both library funding and patronage. Always musically talented (she had been the leader and a composer-arranger for the “Shwiffs” vocal group at Conn College), Sue renewed her musical life in the late 1970s by joining with two friends to form “The Singing Huns,” an award-winning German folk trio; and by organizing the first Oktoberfest seen in Lexington. In 1983, she founded the first independent singles group in Lexington, which continues today as the Bluegrass Connection. Tragically, her son, Todd Richard O’Neill, died in 1984. She created a memorial scholarship in his name at Sayre School, which has been awarded for twenty-two consecutive years.

Sue moved to Washington DC in late 1984 where she worked successively at the Library of Congress, Georgetown University Medical Library, the IIT Research Institute, and Jane’s Information Group. An avid tennis player (and in recent years, golfer), Sue met her husband on the tennis court in 1988 and they moved to Potomac, Maryland and married in 1990. Just before that, she began a twelve-year career at the World Bank as manager of the IT Resource Center. She retired in 2001 as the Bank’s Senior Information Projects Officer. Her focus was on training librarians and information specialists, both at headquarters and overseas field offices, in using the Bank’s information management tools and databases to spread knowledge of best practices in economic and social development. Following retirement, she established a small consulting business specializing in international informatics—perhaps her most important project was a detailed study of the status of clinical trials throughout the world for the National Library of Medicine.

Sue was an active member of the Special Libraries Association from which she received the national President’s Award for her work in raising funds to bring 25 librarians from developing countries to the Global 2000 meeting in England. She was elected President of the DC Chapter in 2001, and won the Member of the Year Award. Sue was also active in the Association for Information Science and Technology. She was twice Chair of the Inter-national Information Issues SIG, which received SIG of the Year honors three years in a row, and she won the SIG Member of the Year Award in 2003. She also co-founded the ASIST international paper competition which brought travel grants, ASIST memberships, and publishing opportunities to dozens of information professionals in developing nations. 

Since 1990 and especially since retiring, Sue developed her musical interests into a virtual second career. As a pianist, she led a jazz trio in weekly performances during a year-long gig at a downtown social club, and played solo piano or accompanied singers at a number of other venues. In recent years, she entertained widely at senior and adult centers throughout the area, playing and singing American standards, show tunes, and folk and gospel songs. These programs proved very popular and almost every audience looked forward to her next visit. She had an enormous repertoire and was blessed with a prodigious musical memory. As a composer, she wrote and orchestrated the music for two original shows done for charity, and wrote dozens of songs for the annual Hexagon reviews. She also composed a four-part choral piece and, on commission, a birthday cantata for soprano and piano. Recently, several of her longer pieces have been performed in concerts by the Composers Society of Montgomery County, and in 2005 she produced a CD of nine of her original compositions.

Besides her children, music, and tennis and golf, Sue’s other great interest was in traveling and seeing the world. Beginning with a memorable trip to Yugoslavia and France as a college freshman, Sue had visited some 33 countries (many more than once) and was on her fifth passport. Perhaps her favorite trips were to Provence in 1994, Paraiba, Brazil in 2004, and the old capitals of Japan in 2005, but, in truth, she really loved meeting and talking with different people just about anywhere. 

Sue leaves her husband, Douglas L Johnson of Potomac; three children, Dr Terry O’Neill, Paul O’Neill and Debra O’Neill Flynn, all of Lexington; a step daughter, Emma Johnson of Boston; granddaughters Susan and Siobhan O’Neill and Addison Flynn of Lexington; two step granddaughters, Rosie and Zoe Johnson-Romanos of Boston; and two brothers, Dr David D Snyder of Edmond, Okla. and Stanford I Snyder of Riverside, Conn.


After a marvelously full and accomplished life, Sue will be deeply missed by everyone. A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 5th at St Luke’s Episcopal Church, Bethesda, Maryland, officiated by Dr Stephanie Nagley (Note: Because St. Luke’s is being reconstructed, the service will actually be held right across the street at the North Bethesda United Methodist Church. The address is 10100 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, and there is ample parking. A reception will follow). Burial will be in Lexington, KY at the Lexington Cemetery (burial date TBA). In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that friends make a contribution to the Todd O’Neill Memorial Scholarship at Sayre School (194 North Limestone Street, Lexington, KY, 40507).

Please send any notes or questions to me at 421 Kingswood Drive, Lexington, KY, 40502, or


The Washington Post

October 9, 2007 Obituary