Ed O'Neill III has served 24 years on an obscure committee dedicated to investing San Joaquin County employees' retirement funds and deciding on retirement and disability eligibility.
O'Neill, 70, a retired California Department of Corrections employee, was appointed in June to another three-year term by the Board of Supervisors. He spent most of his career as a dairy manager at three state prisons, mostly in Ione. He ended his career in accounting in the Department of Corrections' Sacramento office.
Born and raised in Eureka, O'Neill and his wife, Cindy, have lived in the same house in Lodi for 38 years.
"The neighborhood has really changed," he said. "The original owners (on his street) were German, and their lawns were precise."
Today, there is greater diversity, but he says he still lives in a great neighborhood.
Ed and Cindy O'Neill have four daughters, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Ed O'Neill talked to News-Sentinel staff writer Ross Farrow about his life and service to the county.
Q: How did you end up on the county Retirement Board?
A: I was on the 1984-85 Grand Jury. It was a very productive one. The Board of Supervisors asked me if I would take the (retirement) position.
Q: What does the county Retirement Board do?
A: Two things: We decide on the disability and retirements, whether they're eligible or not. Secondly, we do all the investing of the funds. We do not give benefits. The Board of Supervisors does that. It's up to us to see that the benefits that are promised are at a reasonable cost to the employer.
Q: As a lay person on the retirement board, do you get any help understanding how the retirement system works?
A: We have a consultant that we work with. We select investment managers. The expectation is for us not to be experts, but to recognize them when we see one.
Q: Have you been involved in retirement investing at any level other than the county?
A: I spent three years (1994-97) as state president, and I'm still very involved in the state organization, the State Association of County Retirement Systems.
Q: What do you do for fun when you're not involved with the board?
A: I read three papers a day - the Lodi News-Sentinel, Sacramento Bee and Wall Street Journal. I have been a Lodi Elks Lodge member for 37 years. I've been president once. We just gave $500 to Adopt-a-Child. I like to RV, mostly on the West Coast; sometimes wherever the spirit moves us.
Q: How long have you been married?
A: We've been married for 51 years, and it's been a fun 51. She's a great cook. She wasn't real good at first. I didn't think she would last. She couldn't boil water. Now makes a great dinner every day.
Q: How long do you plan to serve on the retirement board?
A: As long as I'm interested. I'll apply, and I will serve as long as I'm appointed.