Amie's and Heather's Memories (one of the talks at his funeral)
We would like you to close your eyes for a moment and think
about what the word grandpa means to you. To us it means 'kisses on the
beezer'. Gramps always wanted a kiss as soon as we walked in the door and
before we left for home. He was never afraid of letting us know how much
he loved and cared for all of his family.
To us it means adventures in the
great outdoors with gramps leading us on hikes to visit the troll who lived in a
pond by an old pioneer house in Woodland Hills. Gramps had us convinced
that we could hear him talking when we put our ears up to a pipe. I
realize now that it was just water gurgling but I was very interested and afraid
whenever we would go visit the troll. Gramps was always taking us on four
wheeler rides through the streets of Woodland Hills and who can forget making
swords whenever we went to visit. We thought the little workshop in the
garage was there solely for the purpose of us building swords with surveying
stakes. Gramps was always there to supervise and help make bigger and
To us it means gramps asking us about school, especially 'Miss
Etherington'. We’re not sure who Miss Etherington is but we all had
her as a teacher. Gramps never missed a school play or any sporting event.
To us it means week long sleep overs
that always ended the same each morning. We grandkids would run into
gramps and grams bedroom and jump into the middle of the bed, leaving gramps and
grams hanging onto each side, trying not to fall out of the bed. Gramps
never seemed to mind us running through the house, rearranging furniture for
huts, or staying up late watching movies. He just joined in the fun.
To us it means hearing stories of him growing up and when
gramps and grams were first married. He had a story for everything and we
often heard him ask, “Can I tell you a story.” A few months ago,
our family had the opportunity of sitting down with gramps and grams while they
each told stories of their childhood. We were reminded of a story we had
heard as children regarding gramps favorite childhood toy. This elephant
was his first toy and his mother returned it to him when he turned 43 along with
the following poem.
(Heather read a poem written by Grandma Neeley (Josephine) on Father's Day 1973 and given to Grandpa accompanied by the subject of the poem -- a tattered, worn, homemade stuffed toy elephant that was his favorite toy, and constant companion, as a little boy).
To Pat -- Father's Day 1973
I am an old friend
Discarded now, but not
Although my sex appeal is nil
My eyes are bright and hearing sharp,
My trunk upon which your teeth were cut
Is ragged, limp, and slightly sagging.
I've hung by your teeth like a mouse from a cat's jaws
And tantalizing shaken 'till I thought I'd scream
My arms resisted all attempts at breaking,
But the one was pulled out by the roots.
Kent kindly sewed it in again,
Backwards 'tis sure, and with red thread
But just to have all my limbs again and
To know that someone cared was heart-warming.
I slept with you for many years,
Giving comfort and warmth when you were alone.
I've wiped the tears that freely flowed
And even the 'bleed' from your petty hurts.
As you grew tall beyond the need of me
The younger kids did coddle and give me love.
Now I'm past forty, no longer good to look upon
My loyalties have remained with you,
For we grew up together.
My age exceeds yours by two months; I look the worst for wear.
Remember, I was on the Christmas tree in 1929, labeled:
"To Baby Neeley, in care of Mrs. P. R. Neeley"
I now come home to spend my declining years
With you my Beloved Master.
To us it means hearing tidbits of wisdom ranging from
school, to business, to having good character. As a young girl, gramps was
always teasing about having our ears pierced saying, “If Heavenly Father
wanted holes in your ears he would have put them there.” To this day
grams still wears clip on earrings. Gramps has always told us that
no matter what achievements or responsibilities you have in life, the most
important thing is family. This is the way he lived life. Everything
he did was with his family and for his family.
To us it means being a good example
to his family. Three years ago, our grandparents packed up and went to
Lansing, Michigan to serve a mission. We know this wasn’t easy for them
to leave their family behind but they also knew it was what Heavenly Father
wanted them to do. Our family has been so blessed by their example and
desire to serve in all that they do.
Gramps is also a great example of a good husband. My
whole life, I have admired the way my grandpa treated grandma. He was
always so loving and did everything he could to make her happy. I remember
as a young girl, riding in the car with my grandparents and watching as grandpa
reached over the seat to hold grandma’s hand. I said to myself, “I
hope that after being married for fifty years, my husband will still reach out
to hold my hand.” Now after watching gramps and grams go through
this trial, I am in awe at the love they have for each other and the support
they are to each other.
In closing we would like to share with you a few words written to gramps from our brother David, who is currently serving a mission. This letter was received a few days after gramps passed away. He wrote, “I know that if you’re not there when I come home it is because Heavenly Father needed you. If I were you I wouldn’t go because He’s just going to put you to work. I love you very much Gramps. I have a feeling that Heavenly Father will look at you and say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.”
Craig's Memories: (one of the talks at his funeral)
I’m honored this morning to share with you some passages from my father’s life. But I admit to feeling a bit hobbled…unable to tap into your own thoughts about him. So I ask each of you to unlock your cherished memories, hold them close to your heart, and together, we’ll celebrate the life of my father, Parley Mitchell Neeley.
My father was born in Salt Lake City to Parley Rhead and Josephine Mitchell Neeley. It was 1930. Dad was the first child, the Patriarch, and he carried himself admirably in that role his entire life. Everyone called him Pat. He had a great sense of humor.
Dad was born into a family with a rich engineering heritage, of which he was very proud. His father, my beloved Grandfather, worked for the Bureau of Reclamation during the grand heyday of water resource development projects in the west. Dad traveled with his family to many projects in several western states as my grandfather performed his duties as an engineer on the Colorado River Water Storage Project. Along the way, his sister Barbara, and brothers David and Douglas; each of whom are as wonderful as Dad, joined in for the ride. It really is a special family, of which I’m very grateful to be a part. Douglas was killed in a hunting accident when I was a youth and I distinctly remember my father’s deep sadness at the loss.
On trips back to Utah, often without grandpa, Dad would get together with a collection of five boy cousins all within a year and a half of each other in age known as the Big 5. They were Billie Gardner, Jimmy Lindsley, Hal Mitchell, Clark Mitchell, and Dad. He always spoke fondly of the Big 5 and their favorite stomping ground, Parowan.
I wish I could delve more deeply into Dad’s childhood, but my time is limited and I’ve much to tell. Suffice to say that his childhood was happy, his footing sound, and much of what he is lies in those seminal childhood years.
My brother Steve has posted information and stories about that period of Dad’s life on his website. Ask Steve for directions and plan a visit. But I must warn you, Steve is a wonderful writer, and you’d best be prepared to stay awhile.
Let’s jump ahead to, about 1947, when Dad was attending high school in Price, Utah. He was athletic, popular and poised for his triumphant senior year when disaster struck. Grandpa had been assigned to the Bureau office in Spanish Fork to continue work on the Bonneville Unit of the Central Utah Project and Dad was to accompany him. This was a serious setback for the teenager. A new town and unfamiliar surroundings presented a potentially serious social setback. But this is where the experiences of his youth, formed while following his father’s work assignments, paid off. For he had developed an infectious personality, honed by the necessity of gaining new friends at each location. So Dad proceeded to grasp victory from defeat at the jaws of social deprivation, and this is where my mother, the lovely Rowena enters the picture.
Dad had heard about Mom from a friend that regularly attended the stock show in Spanish Fork. He’d even missed an opportunity to meet her when they both rode a bus to the theatre in the big city. On the ride home, just as he was ready to make his move, Mom got off the bus.
I read now an excerpt from my brother Steve’s tribute to my parents, written for their 50th Wedding Anniversary:
“Where’s she going?”, he accosted a friend”. “Oh she’s staying with her boyfriend and his family”. The boy’s heart sunk –“ Taken”, he thought. “Dang!, she’s taken – get used to it!” And he forgot about the girl … for a while that is.
“What”, you ask, “was Rowena thinking all this time?” Well not a lot about Pat that’s for sure. Sure she heard of him, a big football player moved down from Price. Yes, all her friends ran to choir practice vying for places next to him – well let them, she wasn’t >that< interested. Besides she’d heard he had a steady in Price anyway….
Now I ask you gentle listener. What can we do to get these two together? The boy thinks the girl is already spoken for, the girl thinks nothing really of the boy. What magic must be woven to bring our hero and heroine to their senses?
No, not >THAT< you scream! Not magic >THAT< powerful!
Yes…. We must…..I intone.
Let us invoke that hideous, deep magic – the thespian magic of OPERA!
Yes, we’ll bore them together;-) That’ll teach em.
And that’s just what happened. The Opera “The Chimes of Normandy” was to play. Both Rowena and Pat made the try-outs --- she as the heroine, he as the hero, and forever after became inseparable. At the end of the school year, after graduation, they were married. They honeymooned in Ogden no less; at what mother says was the “Bates Motel”.
Dad furthered his education with Mom providing critical support, first in Geology at BYU and later, after coming to his senses, he finished his civil engineering degree at the University of Utah. He worked for the Bureau of Reclamation and US Steel and during that time, Sharon and Stephen were born. In 1957, near the time of my birth, Dad decided to start two companies, Surveying Associates and Neeley Engineering, with his father. As Dad’s little companies grew, he focused primarily on Surveying Associates, for he thought engineering to be a bit bookish, and land surveying got him out of the office and into the field, which suited him much better.
My family lived in Spanish Fork in a house that backed the home of Dad’s mother and father. This afforded us great opportunities to develop strong ties with them and many a Sunday was spent sipping hot chocolate or sampling grandma’s homemade goodies. As the family grew with the arrival of Allyson and then Patricia, Dad expanded the house to accommodate all five of the children. Mom kept busy by serving as den mother, chauffeur, treasure hunt coordinator, and otherwise doing her part to keep the family going in the right direction. We had a Shephard/Lab cross named Sasha Gruder, he was our protector.
It seemed like we were
always doing something as a family. If we weren’t on trips with our good
friends the Ludlows and Taylors, we were going to gem shows, movies,
taking dance lessons (yuck), tubing down hills, climbing up hills, hunting
for arrowheads, little league baseball, little league football, ballet, swim
team, tennis, boating, and on and on and on. We were plumb worn out by it
all. But what great times we had.
When I was about 13,
the family moved to a beautiful home above Salem in what would later become the
Town of Woodland Hills. Dad, and Darrel Bushnell, along with other
associates, had created the development and it was up to the Bushnells and
Neeleys to prove that survival in this wilderness setting was possible. As far
as I could tell, the success of the whole operation depended on us making it
through the first winter. We did, and the home became a wonderful refuge
for sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandkids, and the occasional
rattlesnake. We all loved the place and spent many a magical Christmas in
that winter wonderland and the rest of the seasons were awesome too.
Eventually, with all of the kids gone, the place proved to be too much and Dad
and Mom moved here to Orem.
Dad loved everything
mechanical, especially if it was big, powerful, fast, or stylish.
He was a pilot and if
my memory serves me correctly, he owned a total of seven aircraft, including a
Mooney, a few Piper Cubs, a couple of Cessnas and of course a hangar in which to
store the current flying machine. We all loved to fly with Dad and I had
absolutely no fear whatsoever when I was in the air with him. I wish I
could say the same about my commercial airline flight experiences. If only
Dad were the pilot. Before or after a flight, he would hang around the
airport office and talk airplanes with Ralph Woodhouse and the rest of the
Woodhouse boys. Steve and I often accompanied him and we always looked
forward to fishing an icy cold Orange Crush or Grape Nehi from the water bath
cooler there. I loved to go to air shows with him and clamber through the
military planes and jet fighters.
Dad also liked to build
model airplanes both radio controlled and static. I loved models too and
when I was sick, he’d bring one home from Swanners Sporting Goods to make me
feel better. I must confess to faking sick a couple of times so that I
could add a Stuka dive-bomber or Spitfire to my collection. I think Dad
was on to it, but chose to indulge me anyway.
Trains were magical for
him and I’m sure they reminded him of his youth. I think it was their
awesome power that held his attraction. He wrote “ When I was two and a
half, we lived in Green River, Wyoming for a few months.” I was crazy about
trains; I sat at the window by the hour watching the trains as they were
switched around, made up, and sent on their way again. The yards were near
our home and I loved the excitement of the puffing engines and the shrill
whistle.” Later in life, he liked to read the short story ‘The Polar
Express” to the families at Christmas and he always got a bit choked up.
Over the years, between
his business and personal transportation needs, Dad had too many cars to count.
The Cadillacs were great but the boat-tail Riviera was my favorite because it
was such an awesome car in which to pick-up girls, what with the classic lines
and tooled metal dashboard. He had a Jaguar that was very cool also and
there were always trucks around. For vacations and outings, he moved the
family in a homemade motor home that consisted of a red Ford F350 and a fixed
camper with the back of the cab cut out for access. Dad always liked the
He also had a large
truck that he planned to convert into an even grander motor home. It was
jet black and he dubbed it, Bucephalus, after the mythical black stallion. It
seemed like there were nicknames for all the work vehicles, most memorable to me
was a stiff, unassisted steering beast of an F150 named Teddy, after the rough
riding president, and Baby Sherm, the Cushman cat named after the familiar army
tank, just to name a few.
He also had a few kit
cars but only finished a couple of them, a Bugatti and a Bradley I think.
Many times I donned the overalls and helped him strip, clean, and wire brush a
Volkswagon frame in preparation for a kit. That was real quality time with
Dad, similar, to when we surveyed together, but a bit less formal, if you know
what I mean. For a brief period when I was young, he owned a Model A Ford, which
he drove in parades.
Dad owned several boats
over the years. After Lake Powell opened, my parents started a tradition
that continued for over thirty years. I can’t begin to describe the fun
we’ve had there, growing as a family and using that therapeutic hot, dry, and
wet, environment to reconnect with family and friends. It’s been
absolutely magical and few have passed on the opportunity to make the pilgrimage
each year. Dad was a fine Skipper and I marveled at his ability to
maneuver or dock a large houseboat with only one engine in heavy wind. Believe
me, it isn’t easy. I could go on for hours talking about Lake Powell
Dad served his church
in many callings and he had a strong testimony of the gospel and Jesus Christ.
He was never overbearing with respect to religion. Rather than preach, he
chose to teach by example, and conducted his life accordingly. Not having
been able to serve a mission in his youth, Dad always wanted an opportunity to
serve with my mother. When the time was right, they made the sacrifice and
were called to the Lansing, Michigan mission. From all accounts, they had
a positive impact on the people they encountered while working for the Lord.
Mom and Dad brought back with them a love of the young missionaries, church
members, and the beautiful lighthouses lining the Great Lakes.
As a businessman, Dad
was the caring, generous type. Many times he helped his employees with
loans or advances and if work were slow, he’d find something that needed doing
around the house or office. He was also known to help strangers who were
down on their luck and drifters that needed a meal and a couple days work to be
able make it to their destination. I believe he inherited this charitable
behavior from his father, who performed similar acts of kindness.
Dad was a founder and
Vice President of Far West Bank and he served in that capacity for several
years. But he lacked the ability to foreclose and turn away and eventually
left the banking business to pursue other interests better suited to his nature.
was Dad’s choice business pursuit. He built the company from the ground up.
Starting out in Spanish Fork and later moving the office to Orem. Any
family member that wanted to work there had the opportunity, and he relished
working with his brothers, wife, sons, sons-in-law, daughters, and
grandchildren. There was a great camaraderie between all of us and we
worked hard. Most time’s six days a week performing land surveys,
retracement surveys for state agencies, construction surveys and engineering.
There are few places in this state that haven’t been touched in some way by my
Dad was progressive and
always looking for better equipment and instruments. I believe he
purchased the first privately owned electronic distance meter in the state and
was quick to embrace automated drafting. He furthered the careers of many
surveyors and engineers including me. I often hear from peers who tell me
they’ve run across a survey or set of engineering plans adorned with his
wonderful, unmistakable signature.
Associates was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But the waters
were vast, and, as sons are want to do, I sailed out to test them. But the
experience and skills I gained while working under his tutelage serve me well
each and every day and I proudly occupy his desk, which sits in my office, and
strive to conduct my business in the manner which he taught me. His
setting of the bar is high and I continually marvel at the quality of life that
Dad’s little company afforded the family.
Last year Dad gave a
gift to all of the men in the family who had contributed to the success of
Surveying Associates. It was a beautiful brass Brunton compass engraved
with their name and housed in a wooden box bearing the company name. To my
mind, this fine pathfinding instrument is more than just a memento, for I
believe Dad meant it to serve as a reminder to each recipient that his guidance
is always available to them.
Now I turn my remarks to my Mother.
Mom, you have been and
always will be the glue that holds this family together. Your matriarchal
instincts and talents are needed more so now than ever before. Dad could
not have chosen better. I remember sitting with you and Dad not to long
ago. It was just the three of us, talking about the love that you had for each
other. Dad remarked to me that he saw you then just as he had when you
first met, and that you were as beautiful as ever. He meant it. The
unselfish care and love that you gave him, as his health declined, is one of the
most beautiful things that I have ever witnessed. I possess not the
strength to say more at this time.
In the end, Dad
didn’t lose his battle with cancer. Death isn’t a battle,…it just
is. The battle he fought was with life, and he won, by believing in God,
exercising faith and by protecting, nurturing, and loving his wife and family, a
wife and family who appreciated him greatly and loved him dearly.
He received excellent
care from his family, physicians, and caregivers. He endured the pain and
indignities of his affliction with great courage and humor, and stayed with us
as long as he possibly could.
There is but one cure
for the pain of death. It is the sweet embrace of immortality. Dad
left this earthly home late Tuesday night escorted by precious loved ones that
had proceeded him to the hereafter. His loving wife and family surrounded
him. He was never alone.
I hear my father’s
voice, full of mystery and delight, reading to me a favored Robert Service poem,
“The Cremation of Sam McGee”. I see my father walking across the green
grass of the practice field to catch the last minutes of my football scrimmage.
I see him in the bleachers waiting to drive me home from basketball practice.
Dad and Mom rarely missed a game, match, or performance. I see him through
the scope of my theodolite and in the marks on his desk. He stands by me
in tough times and rejoices with me in good times. He is in me and I in
him. We are at peace.
On behalf of his
family, I say to my Father:
Thanks for always being there, and save us all, a kiss on the beezer.
Here are a few of my fondest memories of gramps & grams: Remember this is only the tip of the iceberg... it would take a lifetime to write down all the memories I have of my Grandfather.
- Trying to fit our child-sized bodies into adult-sized snowsuits, so we could go sledding down the driveway at Woodland Hills.
- Sleeping in the sunroom at Woodland Hills, I swear we heard wolfs howling ( I have since been informed that they were not wolves at all, but coyotes!).
- Visiting the A-frame with gramps.
- Riding the snowmobiles and ATV's.
- The motorhome, highheaven, and all the wonderful trips we took.
- Eating Grandpa Neeley lunches while "helping" gramps survey. I use the word helping in a sarcastic way, since I am sure we did not help much, but know that Gramps loved to have us there.
- Trilobite and arrowhead hunting in the deserts.
- All the Lake Powell trips (one in particular I remember sitting with my dad up on the rock, we watched as down below, Gramps and Grams were helping each other across the uneven rock, holding hands. I remember my dad and I talking about how much Gramps and Grams love each other!)
- Making wooden swords out of surveying sticks, then painting them florescent orange and silver.
- The Big-Wheels, the driveway, Woodland Hills.
- The "automobile graveyard".
- Gramps always had model airplanes, trains, motorcycles and cars.
- Who could forget about "Redrock"? Telling stories around the fireplace, wading in the river, hiking the mountain across the street, Frisbee, volleyball, playing baseball in the field by the road....
- The trip to Vernal & Dinosaur National Monument... remember when we lost the Frisbee in the tree :-)
- Gramps was the best story teller! He always had a story to tell.
Gramps lived a very full life and was surrounded by people who loved him. I looked up to and admired Gramps and consider him one of my heroes. He was a mentor, a symbol of strength and wisdom, and taught me so many valuable life lessons. I will miss him greatly and will always cherish the memories.
Sharon's Memories (one of the talks at his funeral)
Dad and Mom -- Two hearts became one 55 years ago. What a precious love story. Their love and devotion to one another is so rare. They never left each others side. Dad was a devoted husband. Dad and Mom had such a unique relationship. They were inseparable. We remember Dad’s special love notes, surprises, and gifts for Mom. Dad recently and on many other occasions told me that Mother was such a remarkable woman. He would always share with me special moments he and mom shared together.
Dad was a devoted father and grandfather. He had unconditional love for each one of us. We felt that he loved and cherished us above all others. He loved each ones unique personality, abilities, and accomplishments. We were all precious to him. He loved working with his children and grandchildren in his business. We have all had special experiences with him.
Dad loved to share stories and histories of the land wherever he worked. Dad and Mom always wanted to have their family with them. We loved being together. Many trips were taken in our trailer dad named the “Lazy Daisy” and later in our motor home affectionately called the “Fun Machine.” We spent time together in Disneyland, Hawaii, Lake Powell, Grand and Bryce Canyons, Zion’s, Mesa-Verde, and Yellowstone to name just a few. We have hiked, skied, and swam together. We hunted arrowheads, trilobites, and topaz. And had many, many picnics. Dad and Mom’s priority was always their family and keeping them close. We learned just a few days ago that Dad was in the process of planning to take the entire family to Disneyland once more.
Summers at Gramps and Grams consisted of: Barbecues on the patio, swimming, tennis, riding hot wheels, scooters, and three and four wheelers. Picnics at the sacred picnic ground and the various projects with Gramps from making swords to restoring cars. Winters would find us together on toboggans, sleds, and snow machines or just playing in the snow. Snow suits, boots, hats, and gloves filled the entry way at the end of each day. And Grams’ famous hot chocolate awaited everyone. We loved kite flies, Easter egg hunts, parades and picnics in the park, we enjoyed costumes and trick or treating and wonderful Thanksgiving dinners prepared by Gramps and Grams. Christmas and the holidays were our favorite time to spend together. The family sometimes spent 1 or 2 weeks together. Special gifts, food, and treats awaited everyone at this magical time. The grandchildren all slept in Gramps and Grams’ bedroom. There were blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags surrounding their bed and the adjoining living room. This was the place they wanted to be with Gramps and Gram. This was a safe haven or was it heaven?
All of the families wanted to share special memories that they had with Gramps . . . Mandy, Mark, Scott and John, the Hawkins’s, Hardy’s, Steve, John, Pat, and Calvin. We all have so many memories with Gramps. Dad was a great example to us and to all who knew him. He sought excellence in every aspect of his life. He was a man of great integrity and intelligence. Dad was also a man of great inner-strength. He had a special way of teaching his family the gospel. He encouraged, supported, and shared his testimony.
Dad always wanted to on a mission and we are so glad that he and mom were able to fulfill a mission in the East Lansing Michigan mission. They served in the mission office and took special care, watching over approximately 175 missionaries. Dad and Mom have always loved lighthouses and they loved the lighthouses in Michigan. It is so symbolic of Dad and Mom – they are a beacon of light to show us the way.
After Dad and Mom returned from their mission, we learned that Dad had cancer. He amazed the doctors and stretched a few months in 18 months. His strength and his courage will never be forgotten. He was always positive and accepted each day’s new challenges. Dad’s motto was a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith:
Never Be Discouraged
If I were sunk in the lowest pit Of Nova Scotia,
With the Rocky Mountains piled on me,
I would hang on,
Exercise faith and keep good courage,
And I would come out on top.
He lived this every day of his life, particularly the last few months. Dad had many trips to the hospital during this time. His room was always too small for all of his family. So we took occupancy in the hallway near his door. His walls always decorated with pictures, letters, and cards of love from his children and grandchildren. Mother as always never left his side. Her constant care, encouragement, and devotion will always be in our memories. Dad didn’t want Mom to leave him for a single moment. Dad told Mom that he would go through any amount of pain if it meant that he would have a little more time with her. Mom had Dad promise not to leave her here too long because she didn’t want to be here without him.
Mom, Dad’s greatest concern was always for you. We want to comfort, love, and take care of you. Dad gave us great strength, and enough love and memories to last a life time. We need to follow his example; he showed us the way to become an eternal family. Dad will always be in our thoughts and in our hearts. Of all of the thoughts and words expressed about Dad today, the most important are:
That he loved us, and we loved him.