Phil was born in Troy, NY, as the only child to the late Philip and Elizabeth (McMahon) O’Neill. Phil lived to work, enjoying every moment, remaining steadfast in his commitment to supporting everyone he touched. He spent his youth in Troy, a graduate of Catholic Central High School in 1955 and later Union University’s Albany College of Pharmacy with a B.S. in Pharmacy in 1959. During his college years Phil drove a bread delivery truck for Freihofer Bread Company and worked at Dequire’s Drug Store to support his college studies.
Phil began his professional career as a Registered Pharmacist at Frost Pharmacy in Bennington, while spending his “days off” working at Putnam Memorial Hospital in Bennington, and Mary McClellan Hospital in Cambridge, NY as a staff pharmacist. Along with his business partner, Edward Molloy, they opened The Pharmacy, Inc. on North Street in Bennington in 1969. After Ed’s retirement, Phil opened two additional pharmacies, Extended Care Pharmacy in Bennington and The Pharmacy-Northshire in Manchester, VT, all of which continue to operate. His career spanned many years as well as opportunities, including Span America Medical Systems, where he held the position of Director of Medical Sales from 1992-1996. In 1996 Phil joined Swiss American, a global skin care manufacturing company now based in Carrolton, TX, as Vice President of Sales. Phil was promoted to President and CEO in 2012, a position he held until the time of his death. For over 25 years Phil lead the Swiss American team with vision, compassion and kindness. During those 25 years, Phil oversaw the evolution of both the company brand, Elta MD and the manufacturing business, Swiss American CDMO. Phil was the driving force in building EltaMD to be the number one physician dispensed suncare brand in the US. At the same time, he engineered the steady growth of the contract manufacturing business, resulting in two very successful businesses. In 2018 he masterminded the sale of Elta MD, a Swiss American subsidiary, to Colgate-Palmolive, after which he remained CEO of Swiss American CDMO, a worldwide leader in contract manufacturing. During his time at Swiss American, the company was recognized with many awards including being named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company listing 4 times, named one of the Top Ten Medical Device Contract Manufacturers in 2019, and was one of the 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Dallas 3 different years. In 2021, Phil was nominated for Innovation in Manufacturing, CEO of the year in 2021 by D Magazine. In Phil fashion, his entrepreneurship extended outside his professional life into Thoroughbred horse racing, as the founder of Windylea Farm Thoroughbred Horse Farm of Bennington in 1978, and later Windylea Farm-NY based in Hoosick Falls, NY. Windylea has become a household name across the racing landscape in recent years achieving national recognition for wins, earnings and the strength of its New York Bred program. Throughout his professional career, Phil excelled at making the most of opportunities, looking to catch the luck of the Irish in four-leaf clovers, recognizing the strengths of his employees and providing a pathway for each to prosper. He was the quintessential mentor to the entire workforce of each company he ran coaching everyone to “just do the right thing”.
Phil was vastly philanthropic, contributing to many civic organizations as well as veteran run groups, including the foundations to his success, Catholic Central and Albany College of Pharmacy. He was awarded the Bowl of Hygeia award in 1972 for Civic Leadership in the Bennington Community by the Vermont Pharmacist Association. Phil was the Executive Director of the Vermont Pharmacists Association from 1973-1987 and Chairman of the Vermont Formulary Committee from 1979-1987. Phil held the position of President of Bennington Little League for a number of years in the 1970’s and 80’s as well as District Administrator for Vermont Little League Baseball from the late 80’s to early 90’s. He loved to equally coach and umpire youth baseball, was known for his “out of character” punch-out call, always considering himself a “pitchers” umpire. His contributions span the globe including service to our country as a member of the National Guard during the 1960’s.
In the times that Phil stepped away from his work, he enjoyed attending Thoroughbred horse racing and in recent years re-kindled his love for fishing and boating on Saratoga lake.
Phil is survived by his wife of 60 years, Fran (Deguire) O’Neill, his children, the five K’s, Kerry (David) Krawczyk of Bennington, Keith (Sandra) O’Neill also of Bennington, Kathleen (Mark) Hunt of Buskirk, NY, Kimberly (Douglas) Dicconson of Westport, CT and Kevin O’Neill of San Francisco, CA. Grandchildren Dylan (Brianne) and McKenzie Krawczyk; Abbie, Bailey and Ryan O’Neill; Christopher and Ethan Hunt; Parker and Jackson Dicconson; many cousins along with dear friends and business colleagues.
At the request of the family, in lieu of flowers, donations in Phil’s honor may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project, woundedwarriorproject.org, or New Vocations Race Horse Adoption Program, horseadoption.com. Services will be at the convenience of the family.
Philip J. O’Neill left an indelible mark on the world.
Guestbook condolences may be made at www.maharandsonfuneralhome.net
Published in The Bennington Banner on Mar. 25, 2021.