From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 50 - March 11, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online


John W. Neely

By Faye Neely Travers

John Wallace Neely was born in Wagoner, Ok., on Dec. 8, 1923 to Jim and Annie Neely. John was the eighth of 10 children, including six boys and four girls. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Annie Neely; Bill Neely of Wagoner; Bob Neely of California; Joe Neely of Pinedale; Louise Neely of San Diego, Calif.; Gladys Miller of Pinedale; Mae Schmidt of El Cajon, Calif.; Clyde Neely of California and Bucky Neely of Pinedale.

When we were children during the depression we made do with what we had. We were self-sufficient in keeping bellies full and wearing hand-me-down clothes - warm and happy. Mom and Dad went to the second-hand store to buy our shoes.

Come Sunday, we always went to Sunday school and church walking a mile each way. Getting ready was the same every week. Those patent-leather shoes needed shining and there was no polish available, so mom always said, "Grab a greasy biscuit, break it in two and rub it on your shoes." Man you could almost see yourself in the shine.

When she combed John's hair, she would dip the comb in the fish bowl to wet the comb and get control of his curly hair.

She said, "Fish water is good for your hair." We thought that was what everybody did, so we had absolutely no hang-ups about it. Then we were out the door, dressed up and going to church.

When John was eight or so he went to the junkyard and came home with a tricycle frame with only the front wheel. He found two smaller wheels, both different sizes, and managed to "Rube Goldberg" a tricycle together, even though he was much too old for one. He was pleased as could be with his new toy. We'd had only toys that we made - no store bought ones. He proudly rode it up and down the sidewalk, finally letting me have a turn.

He still was able to invent "things that worked" throughout his adult years.

John lived in Oklahoma until the age of 15, when the family moved to Daniel. John worked for his Uncle Buck Baker for four years before joining the Navy in 1943. He spent four years there and was carpenters mate second class. His job there was building partitions within the hulls of Victory ships that carried ammunition to wherever needed in World War II.

After his discharge, he worked for Albert and Randy Miller (sister) at the saw mill in Hoback Basin for eight years, learning the dying art of wood cutter axe. Albert was a master teacher. He taught John the log chopper's method of hewing coped corners. John became quite adept at this craft but, unlike Albert, who used only his axe, John preferred working with a wood chisel after the axe work to effect a precision fit on the fitted logs.

John returned briefly to work at his Uncle Buck's ranch then worked for Bob McNeel for several years.

When he decided to leave Hoback with his 60 head of cows, a dance was held for him and he was presented with a rolling pin. He set up housekeeping on his own. John leased the Cox place from Jesse Blackman for 15 years. John built a log home on Beaver and then, after a land swap with Mildred Miller, he moved the house to Daniel at its present location.

He was a master craftsman, making things and giving them to friends. He was also a master whittler and carver. He whittled in his spare time since he was a child.

John leaves one sister, Faye Travers of Littleton, Colo; Larry John Travers and family, Gary and Fonda Travers and family, Pat and Sharon Travers and family, Gary and Ruth Neely and family, Mary and Dave Channell and family; Ellen and Ward Stanforth and family; Jim and Nancy Kenyon and family; Doug Neely and family; Billie June Lelli and family; Anita Jo Brandt and family; Steve Neely and family; Clyde Neely and family; Phillip Neely; Sandra Neely and family, Jerry Neely and family, and many great nieces and nephews and a host of friends.

He was dearly loved by all.

Memorials in John's name may be made to the Daniel Community Center, c/o Gary and Ruth Neely, P.O. Box 11, Pinedale, Wyo., 82941.

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