Joy Ann Whitesell O’Neal, 82, Nevada, previously Ft. Scott, KS, died Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, at Mercy Hospital, Joplin. She was born July 17, 1940, in Filley, the only daughter of Kenneth Whitesell Sr. and Bonnadell “Bonnie” Blevins Whitesell. Joy graduated from El Dorado Springs High School in 1958. She then attended the University of Missouri and Fort Scott Community College. She married George O’Neal on Oct. 31, 1959, in Nevada. They had one son, Larry.

Joy took great pride in her job. She worked at Key Industries in Ft. Scott, KS, for many years. While there she held various positions including Vice President of Customer Service, Shipping and Accounts Receivable. A co-worker remembered her as “a lovely person to work with.” She also took pride in her community, serving in many organizations. She was involved with the Downtown Program, board member of The Beacon, City Council, Mayor and Rotary where she served as president as well as one of the first female members of that organization. Joy supported the Keyhole Youth Center serving on the board. As a cancer survivor she advocated for the Care to Share organization and helped with Relay for Life events. She also enjoyed Ft. Scott’s rich history, volunteering for candlelight tours of the fort and tours of the city’s Victorian homes.

Joy attended Community of Christ Church. Always an encourager, she exuded positive energy. She took great pride in her son, Larry, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As busy as she was, Joy continued to travel/care for her mother who resided in the family home that Joy was born in, giving many of her weekends to travel back and forth. She was an encourager, always looking for the positive in life…drawing people to her. The past few years she resided at Joe Clark Residential Care Home where she was in charge of activities playing Yahtzee and bingo encouraging others around her to participate. She could tell you all about the dreams and aspirations of the staff that worked there. Joy Ann was aptly named; she was quite frankly a joy.

Survivors include a son, Larry O’Neal, and wife, Teresa, Ohio; brother, Gary Whitesell, and wife, Robin, Stockton; a granddaughter, April Kennard; four great-grandchildren, Nate Elliot, Joshua Lyon, Katie and Jack Kennard; sisters-in-laws, Vera Whitesell, Filley, and Wendy Whitesell, Newport Beach, CA, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, George; brothers, Jack, Kenneth, Jr. and Barney Whitesell; and granddaughter, Erin Lyon.

Services were held Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Cheney Witt Chapel with burial in the El Dorado Springs City Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to Care to Share and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, PO Box 347, 201 S. Main St., Ft. Scott, KS 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at

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