Thelma Jean (Hart) Neel, 88, of Evansville, IN and Eddyville KY, passed away on Monday, June 14, 2021 at Deaconess Gateway Hospital in Newburgh, Indiana.
Thelma was born on February 20, 1933 in Gobbler’s Knob, Illinois, just outside of McLeansboro. In 1949, Thelma met, and two weeks later, married Jack Neel upon his return from service in the U.S. Army. They were married for almost 61 years before Jack preceded her in death in December 2010.
She and Jack moved to Evansville in 1952 just as they had started their family of six boys. Although Thelma was primarily a homemaker, she took particular pride in a couple of part-time working stints outside of the home that she had over the years. In 1993, a few years after Jack’s retirement they moved to the Eddyville, KY area where they loved fishing, working in their wooded yard, caring for their many dogs and cats, and continuously improving their home.
As her family grew, she was proud to be a West-Sider and that all the boys graduated from Reitz High School. She attended many Reitz basketball games with Jack over the years and had at least one son playing from 1970 until 1981. Thelma loved to travel and camp ,and particularly enjoyed her trip to Hawaii, her visits to Venice Beach, FL and occasional trips to Gatlinburg. She also enjoyed camping with the kids, and later camping and playing cards with her brothers and sisters-in-law. She loved to dance and have fun with friends at the old Hybrid Inn, and other venues around town.
Thelma was preceded in death by her husband Jack, who she missed every day, her father Gleason Hart, her mother Hildred Taylor Hart, who passed following giving birth, her step-mother Lizzie Hart, and her brother-in-law Richard “Dick” Neel.
She is survived by 6 sons: Danny (Debbie) of Tampa, FL; Robert (Candy) Neel of Eddyville, KY; Larry Neel, James (Lynda) Neel, Jeffery (Cheri) Neel, and Don (Jamie) Neel of Evansville, 2 brothers: Truman Hart (Sandra) of Woodlawn, IL and Dr. James Hart and Earlene Piquard of Fairview Heights, IL, and a sister-in-law Jeannie Neel.
She is also survived by eight grandchildren: Amy Neel and Kelley Neel of Tampa, Florida, Adam Neel of Lakewood, Colorado, Justin Neel (Brecklyn), Drew Neel (Gina), Alyson Hardesty (Joe), Andrew Neel (Becca), and Aidan Neel of Evansville, IN. She is also survived by great-grandchildren Kylee Aegerter, Danielle Neel, Dylan Neel, and Evie Neel, and many nieces and nephews.
Friends may visit on Sunday, June 20, 2021 from 12 noon until 2 PM at the Gholson Funeral Home in McLeansboro, IL. Funeral services will follow at 2 PM with Rev. Randall Ragan officiating, followed by a brief burial service at Prospect Cemetery near McLeansboro.
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