Robert “Bobby” Charles Onco died January 31 died at his home on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 63.
Mr. Onco was born in Hobart, Oklahoma, on May 23, 1950, to Atwater William Onco and Lucille Redbird Onco, both of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma. He was raised to follow the traditions of the Kiowa people, and was a proud Kiowa man. He left Oklahoma in April 1968 to serve in the armed forces during the Vietnam War. However, he found his true warrior spirit fighting for the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee in 1973. He was an adventurous man who enjoyed traveling around Indian Country, survivors said. Through his experiences, he earned the Kiowa name “Daum-To-Yai” or “Traveller to Other Countries.” Finally, he settled down on the Shinnecock Reservation, where he met his wife, Jacqueline Smith.
Survivors said that of all the things he had done in his life, he always said that his proudest achievement was his family. He married Jacqueline Smith on May 25, 1988, and became stepfather to David Taobi Silva and Adrienne Star Silva. The couple had two children of their own, Robert “B.J.” Tangnaqudo Onco and Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco. Using his skills as a tradesman, Mr. Onco built his family a home. It was the love he had for his family, and for the community, that made Shinnecock his true home.
Mr. Onco had many roles in his life. He was a father, a husband, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a friend and a spiritual leader. When he wasn’t busy being the friendly neighborhood plumber, he was busy being a friendly man. He loved to just “go cruising” around the Reservation in his work van. Survivors said that he was the kind of man who made friends with everyone, and that his amusing sense of humor, loud laughter and gigantic smile made him a charming man. If you were upset, he could always make you smile, they said, adding that he was someone to turn to for words of comfort, guidance and support. His favorite words of advice were, “Don’t worry, be happy!” they said.
Mr. Onco was a devout, spiritual man and as such he did not believe in goodbyes, those who knew him said. Instead, he would say, “See you later!”
Mr. Onco was predeceased by his father, Atwater Onco, and mother, Lucille Redbird Onco. He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline Onco; two sons, David Taobi Silva and Robert “B.J.” Tangnaqudo Onco; two daughters, Adrienne Star Silva and Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco; a granddaughter, Taryn Williams; two grandsons, Avery Onco and Hason Amisco Harres; two sisters, Karen Koon and Frances Bradley and their families; two brothers, Eddy Onco and Bryan Onco; and a host of relatives and friends.
The family received friends on Tuesday, February 4, at the Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton. A funeral service was held on Wednesday afternoon at the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church; the Reverend Michael Smith officiated. Interment with military honors followed at Shinnecock Cemetery.