Thelma Joan O’Neal

OAKLAND – Thelma Joan O’Neal, 89, of Oakland passed away peacefully on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, at the Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville with family by her side after a brief illness.

Thelma was born in Oakland on Sept. 27, 1933, the daughter of Harry and Velma (Thomas) Bickford. She grew up in Oakland and attended the Oakland schools along with 11 sisters and brothers.

Over the years Thelma worked at the Diamond Match Company in Oakland, Norridgewock Shoe Company in Norridgewock, and as a house keeper at the Econo Lodge Motel in Waterville. But most of all she was a very loving and caring mother. She was a very hard-working person and instilled that into her children. She would always make sure that her children had all that they needed and then some, always putting them first in her life before anything or anyone else.

Growing up with so many siblings, there were always many great stories to be told. After all the Sunday dinners she served, there would always be time for her to tell those stories with so much enthusiasm and along with her fiery spirit, she created memories that would last a life time.

Thelma had a passion for growing flowers. She just loved working in her flower gardens and would grow some of the most beautiful flowers every year. Longfellow’s Greenhouses in Manchester was one of her favorite places to go to get plants and flowers. “They always have such a great variety and some unusual flowers and plants” she would say. She also was an avid bird watcher. She had many feeders in her front yard and would feed the birds all year round. She could tell you all about the different kinds of birds that would frequent her feeders. Her favorites were the beautiful Red Cardinals and the Black-Capped Chickadees. Oh yes and the Little Chipmunks that she thought were so cute, she would put extra seeds on the ground for them.

She also enjoyed going for rides up north in the fall to see the beautiful foliage and down east to see the ocean with the highlight of that trip would be to enjoy one of her favorite foods, yes the Maine Lobster Roll. This wonderful lady will be greatly missed, but will be in our hearts forever more. Now with Angel Wings she will be able to fly with the birds and watch over us until the end of time.

Thelma was predeceased by her parents, Harry and Velma Bickford; son Merland L. O’Neal Jr.; siblings Harry Bickford, Annie Bickford, Thomas Bickford and his wife Marcella, Blynn Bickford and his wife Juanita, Gary Bickford, Kenneth Bickford, John Bickford and his wife Jane; and daughter-in-law Susan Zimmerman.

She is survived by her children Bonnie Stratton and Gary DesRosiers, Debroah Wentworth and her husband Richard, Joey and his wife Jaime; grandchildren Sydney O’Neal, Tanya Kormann and her husband Eric, Gabe Wentworth and his wife Angie, Jeremiah Stratton and his wife Paula; great grandchildren, Ben, Abby, and Marley Kormann, Hannah Wentworth, Anthony Whitman, Jack and Poppy Stratton; siblings Lawrence Bickford and his wife Christine, Leatrice Grevois and her husband Roger, Charlene Houle and her husband Paul; and many nieces and nephews.

A graveside service will be held at the Lewis Cemetery in Oakland on Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. with a Celebration of Life Party to follow at the residence of Debroah and Richard Wentworth 298 Hussey Hill Rd. in Oakland. All are welcome to attend.

The family would like to thank the doctors and nursing staff at the Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville for their exceptional care that they gave to our mom in her last days of life. God Bless You All!

Arrangements are in the care of Wheeler Funeral Home, 26 Church Street, Oakland, where condolences, memories, and photos may be shared with the family on the obituary page of the website at

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