James O’Neal, A Most Remarkable Man

He’s an amazing man. He works at a Safeway store in Kirkland, Wa. and his customers adore him. Despite his terribly disfigured face, little children “high-five” James O’Neal. His story is a lesson in courage and inner fortitude, a tale of grit and steel. His life reveals a man who has grasped the sometimes illusive understanding that the housing of a man often shows his deep and intimate being in a mistaken manner. The James O’Neal account is the brilliant display of a noble soul.

'He is an amazing man'

Unlike many persons with such disfigurements, Mr. O’Neal has made the decision to refrain from hiding. Instead, he has immersed himself in a job where, every day, he meets the public.

O’Neal knows his deformity shocks people. He knows others with the same genetic disorder would rather hide than work, but for 7 years James has proudly worked the registers at the Kingsgate Safeway on 124th Avenue NE in Kirkland.

“I just tell people this is who I am, it’s the way I am. If you don’t like me, you don’t like me,” he said.

His customers don’t like him — they love him.

“He is an amazing man and we love him. He’s the kind of person that makes your day,” said customer Aubrey Richins.

“I really love James,” said shopper Katie Knopf.

All of them say they were stunned at first when they saw his disfigured face.

“I have to admit I was a little taken back, but when I walked through his line I felt this spirit come over me, this man is out here, not hiding,” said long-time customer Cindy Peay.

Every shopper said the same thing: O’Neal is an inspiration. If that wasn’t enough, he’s lightning-fast on the register.

From KOMO News where a video is also available.

There are others involved here who are to be commended. The first are the management at the Safeway store who courageously hired James to be a cashier at this major grocery store. Not knowing in advance what the response of the public would be, they valiantly took a chance.

Now, his customers and his fellow workers are raising money to help pay for operations that doctors say will greatly improve his appearance. While his medical insurance will cover much of the expense, it will in no way fund all the medical treatments that are needed.

Across the country, and even around the world, people have read of this remarkable man, in loving ways have written of his story, and have contributed thousands of dollars. He has captured our hearts. Holly emailed me about James as his story broke on network news, the next day Trish Groe suggested I would be interested in his story, and now multiplied times over I have read and heard his story.

The kindness and generosity of Americans impress me. I’m glad I live in this great country and can make claim to its nurturing humanitarian concepts. The thoughtfulness of the peoples of the world thrill me. I’m glad that from continent to continent we can hold hands and revel in common goodness.

Let us continue to pray for James, for his support team, and for his doctors.


My devotional blog is here.

6 thoughts on “James O’Neal, A Most Remarkable Man

  1. Coco Wilson

    Dear Shirley,
    Thanks for your response. Yes we do believe in G-d. Praying one night I received an “answer” that told me to email the doctor in Seattle that probably saved my son’s life. Thank you so very much for your kindness. Best regards, Coco


  2. Hello, Coco–Welcome to my blog. Hope you visit here often.

    Your story is a tragic one and breaks my heart to read it. I am so sorry for the ill-treatment you and your family have endured. That is not right.

    Let me encourage you to continue your search for kind and compassionate doctors. As you have said, there are some out there.

    Do you go to a church anywhere? I have friends in Washington and I would be glad to direct you to them and their churches.

    God bless you.



  3. coco

    I too have NF and unfortunately in my area looks is everything.

    I want to tell Mr. O’Neal that he is very courageous.

    In my lifetime I have dealt with many rude doctors. They made fun of me and told me I would never be ‘normal’. I also have dealt with caring doctors who addressed my problems and removed most of my bothersome tumors. However there were more rude doctors than caring doctors.

    When my son was born they told me he was mentally restarted and did not help our family at all. They would not send us to doctors who knew of the disorder. If we were sent to a doctor that doctor would tell us, “I’m not going to help you.” Even though my son had a very painful tumor on his leg that made it hard for him to get around, the doctors kept saying nothing was wrong.

    Even though he through school and was treated as an outcast and was placed in the mentally handicapped classroom against our wishes (the parents) he graduated from high school, graduated from college twice and then fought cancer and won.

    At age 24 lost his leg to cancer in summer of 2007.

    I really hope that some day in the state of Washington, our condition will be recognized as a real health problem and we receive polite health care, and we won’t be put into a lower “caste” category and ignored.

    I really need a caring doctor that’ll take care of me as a person.

    Good luck to you Mr. O’Neal. I’ll be watching you thanks to KOMO and I’ll be saying prayers for you.

    Best regards,


  4. Pingback: Comment on James O’Neal, A Most Remarkable Man by Mark Pryor

  5. Great post, a very inspirational story of a man who was willing to go for it in spite of what others may think, so say, do.

    I wish I could personally know this man. His courage is staggering.

    On a personal note, which may embarrass you: My son, Andrew, is here in Lake Havasu, and when he saw your name here, he asked, “Have you ever heard him preach?”

    “Yes, I once heard him. He is a great preacher.”

    “He is one of the greatest I have ever heard,” Andrew responded. “He is an ‘undiscovered’ preacher.”


  6. my prayers go out to James and all the extraordinary people of the world!!
    Truly ispiring!
    Thank you!!


    First, Egle, the work on your site is beautiful.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for your prayers for James. What a courageous man he is.


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