68 years old, born in Atlanta, Georgia under a falling barometer and wind out of the west. I’m 5’ 7” tall on a good dry day, shorter when it’s raining. Weigh in at 208 pounds... again, more when it’s wet. I know, I know, I’m fat but hide it well don’t you think? I’m also bald headed and have been since age 23. I’m used to it. Having hair on my head would seem like a lot of trouble to me.
Married to Gail Olivia Williams (yes, her name was Williams before we married). We went to high school together near Atlanta and were acquainted but not close friends. She sat across from me in home room for 4 years. I looked at her. She didn’t look at me. Believe me, Gail Williams was the prettiest girl in high school bar none, was designated and awarded as such by her peers and, if you’ve seen her on the webpage, you know she still is the prettiest woman wherever she goes.
We met again when I was a freshman at Emory and a fraternity brother had asked me to ask her for a blind date. He had seen a photo in my yearbook. She said that she didn’t go out on blind dates but had wanted to date me for many years. Yea, sure, I just caught her in a weak moment. For our very first date, we went to a baseball game in which I played shortstop going 0 for 3, flied out to right three times on pitches low and outside. That guy had a great curve. After 45 years, since our first date that night, I’m still performing and being coached from the sidelines. I asked her to marry me a few weeks later, obviously another weak moment on her part. We did so three years later in June of 1965, the same week I graduated from Emory. We’ve been married for 47 years. Evidently I still have my act going strong.
In high school, I wrestled and played football (until the typical knee injury and operation ended all that), and was an All-State baseball player as a senior setting a record in the Georgia High School Baseball Association with a batting average of .567. That average is the second highest ever recorded for a high school player in the history of the State and lasted for 23 years. I was proud. In mid season of that remarkable year, I was batting a cool .818. OK, a few bloop doubles fell in and some ‘seeing-eye’ singles got through. I graduated from Emory University with a BA degree in Economics. I am a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. At Emory I wrestled, played football (wasn’t supposed to), was a diver on the swim team, a sprinter in track (starting first and finishing last in the finals every meet) and the soccer goalie. In my senior season, I was unscored on. I was an average student at best but boy did I have a good time. WOW. Immediately after college, I worked in sales management in the food industry until finding that Television and Radio was more my style. Making up and telling stories about hunting and fishing is more interesting than those about hot dogs.
In the Spring of 1987, at 43 years old, I finished 3rd in the Atlanta Body Building Championship. Don’t get excited, it was in the Masters’ Division and didn’t have much competition, more than 2 but not many. I’ll put the photos on the site one day when Gail will let me. I lost 43 pounds for that night on stage and never want to do that again. I damn near starved. I like to eat. It’s one of my remaining passions.
Gail and I have two daughters that live nearby. Our oldest is married, helps me run the company and has two children; Travis is 19 and says he’s going to take over the TV and Radio show and Lorrie is 17 and will be an outstanding mother, the grandest and most rewarding profession on this earth. Our youngest daughter is married, is a beautician, and occasionally cuts the remaining hair I own. Gail and I spend part of our time at the “Lean-to Lodge”, a small cabin in the North Georgia Mountains often broadcasting “O’Neill Outside” radio from there. Maybe you’ve heard us doing that. I’m usually in my shorts. It’s a disgusting visual. Don’t try it.
Gail and I work every day. You think all this is easy? Every week on average, 52 weeks a year, over 1.4 million outdoorsmen and women either watch the television show, listen to the radio show, read articles by O’Neill in magazines or visit www.oneilloutside.com.
In 2013, the television show will witness its 32nd season. It began as “The Metro-Channel Sports Fishing Report”, a Thursday night 15-minute interview program on local Atlanta cable. The show expanded and changed from “Fishing in Georgia”, to “Southern Fishing”, “Reel Adventures”, “Adventures Afield” and finally “O’Neill Outside”. The program is on NBC Sports, Sport South, and Sun Sports Networks 52 weeks a year, reaches 80,000,000 households and has a weekly audience of more than 750,000 deeply disturbed outdoorsmen and women.
“O’Neill Outside” radio airs on from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday mornings on Atlanta’s WSB Radio and can be heard over 38 Southern and East Coast States. I’m told the weekly audience for our 20 plus year old radio program is over 400,000. I don’t believe it! Anyway Gail and I arise on Saturday mornings at 2:30 a.m. and drive to WSB in downtown Atlanta finishing at 6 a.m. Hope you listen and appreciate it.
So far it’s been quite a ride. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. After all, I’ve got a great partner. Gotta hold up my end of the deal.