He was 93.
Wayne was born on February 28, 1920 in Kansas City, MO, to E. Marvin and Vivian Cramer Neel.
He was preceded in death by his three brothers: Marvin C. Neel, the infant W. Dale Neel, and William R. Neel.
The Neel family homesteaded and farmed near Lewistown, MT.
Wayne’s family enjoyed his stories of riding his pony to a country school!
High school graduation was followed by two years in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Wayne graduated from Montana State College (‘43), where he was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, Agriculture Club and ROTC.
He enlisted in the infantry, then the fledgling Army Air Corps, serving in WWII as a B-17 pilot.
After military duty, Wayne was employed by the Soil Conservation Service in Lewistown, MT.
He married Betty Jane Smith of Lewistown in 1948, the couple moved to Michigan and he began graduate studies in Agricultural Economics.
In 1949, he was hired by the Federal Land Bank, where he spent the next 34 years in farm credit services and served with distinction as president from 1973 until his retirement in 1983.
Biennial Land Bank reunions held across the region were a highlight of his retirement and provided wonderful opportunity for sharing with former colleagues.
Wayne and wife Betty traveled the world and spent long summers at their cabin on Loon Lake.
He is survived by Betty, his wife of 65 years, and their children: daughter Linda Blair (Doug), son Michael, and daughter Shelley Stenstrom (Mark).
Grandchildren include: Megan Blair-Cabasco (Tony), Neel Blair (Josie Clark) and Heather Stenstrom Doran (Christian).
Eight great-grandchildren carry Wayne’s spirit forward.
He was a member of Ag Bureau and Downtown Rotary.
Wayne volunteered for Meals on Wheels, food delivery to housebound seniors and Loon Lake Association pancake breakfast.
He was an avid blood donor.
Contributions honoring A. Wayne Neel may be made to the American Cancer Society, 920 N Washington, Ste 200, Spokane, WA 99201 and the American Stroke Foundation, 5916 Dearborn, Mission, KS 66202.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Assumption Catholic Church on Monday, April 8 at 11 a.m. followed by a reception in the parish hall.
A graveside service will take place with military honors at Holy Cross Cemetery at 3 p.m. that afternoon.
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