More than 600 people gathered in La Porte, Indiana for Dr. Tamara O’Neal’s memorial service Friday. O’Neal was shot to death by her ex-fiance in the parking lot of Mercy Hospital in Chicago nearly two weeks ago.
“When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting brush. A quiet bird in circle flight, I am the soft star that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die,” high school friend Mailaika Beaty read in a poem during the service. “She was Dr. Tamara O’Neal, 38 years old of Chicago, Illinois, but she was a Slicer (nickname for La Porte High School) for life.”
First Church of God played host to the large crowd, which included family, friends, fellow medical students, and colleagues.
While it wasn’t O’Neal’s home parish, the church was chosen to accommodate the expected large crowd. It’s also where O’Neal’s sister, Sharita O’Neal, teaches summer Bible classes.
Dr. Heather Prendergast, co-assistant dean for clinical affairs at the University of Illinois College of Medicine where O’Neal studied, told the gathering that she has struggled since her former mentee’s passing.
Prendergast said O’Neal worked long hours and was dedicated to helping others.
She recalled when after working a long shift two months ago, O’Neal assisted in providing about 200 sports physicals for students at Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School.
“Tamara was always ready to go. Collectively, we did a lot together,” Dr. Prendergast said. “I’m going to miss Tamara so much.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Brad Bunney, head of UIC’s emergency medicine residency program, decried the violence that claimed her life.
“Intimate partner violence, domestic violence, gun violence, workplace violence have become all too common. It’s an epidemic that needs to be cured,” Dr. Bunney said. “This isn’t just our lane, this is our entire highway.”
Two other victims, Dayna Less, a 25-year-old pharmacist resident at Mercy, and Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez, 28, were laid to rest this week.