William Neely, 88

Published 1:58pm Monday, July 30, 2012

William Neely, 88
Born: Jan. 29, 1924
Died: July 23, 2012

William “Bill” T. Neely, 88, of Edwardsburg, passed July 23, 2012, at his home on Garver Lake, Edwardsburg.

Bill Neely

He was born Jan. 29, 1924, to Tom George and Clelie (Herron) Neely. Bill grew up and attended school in a small town of Water Valley, Ky.

After his graduation from high school, Bill planned to attend Murry State University, but this ended with the advent of World War II and Bill entered the Armed Forces serving our country as a member of the U.S. Air Force. Beginning with Officers Training School, then stationed mainly in North Africa as part of the Air Transport Service and was honorably discharged in 1946.
In the late 1940s, Bill took a job with International Harvester in Louisville, Ky. He became a UAW member of local 1336 and held many positions within the union from 1952 through 1964.
In 1964, Bill was elected president of Local 1336 and held that office until he accepted an appointment to a UAW International staff position. He moved to northern Indiana and was well-known in his field as a negotiator as well as an arbitrator. He served on the boards of both Indiana University and Notre Dame in their labor education studies. He was a member of Local 1111. Through his efforts, Dyngus Day became a paid holiday for union workers.
An avid Democrat, he belonged to the National Democratic Party, as well as state and local parties. He was a member of Hope United Methodist Church. Also, he was a member of the Sierra Club and the Edwardsburg American Legion.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his first wife, Betty; his brothers, Norman and Bobbie Neely and their wives; and two stepsons.
Surviving is his wife, Rosemary (Mortenson) Neely; and two sons, William B. (Elaine) Neely, of Louisville, Thomas G. (Karalynn) Neely, of Ashland, Ohio; and four daughters, Marille (Richard) Ferguson, of Cincinnati and Edwardsburg, Shirley (Charles) Goddard, of Morgantown, Ind., Linda (Warren) Lawson, of Elkhart, Anita (John) Woods, of Elkhart. There are two stepdaughters, Linda (Gary) Zimmerman, of Hobart, Wis., and Barbara (James) Kassner of Wrightstown, Wis. Also, 19 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; two brothers-in-law, Earl and Allan Mortenson; and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life for Bill Neely was held Wednesday, July 25, at 11 a.m. in Hope United Methodist Church, 69941 Elkhart Rd., Edwardsburg.
Friends and family gathered from 10 to 11 a.m. at the church. The Rev. Jeff Reese, pastor, will officiate. Interment will be in Louisville (Ky.) Memorial Gardens.
The United States Air Force Honor Guard was present at the Hope United Methodist Church to give military rites by playing taps and folding the flag.
In lieu of flowers, it is requested that memorial donations be made to Hospice Care of Southwestern Michigan, 222 N. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 100, Kalamazoo, MI 49007-3882.
Arrangements are by Paul E. Mayhew Funeral Home Edwardsburg.

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