William S. “Sam” McNeil, Jr. 91, passed away on May 22, 2019 at his home.
McNeil was born in Asheville, North Carolina on January 31, 1928. He graduated from Sand Hill High School and attended Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, graduating in June 1949 with a degree in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. During his college years, he ran cross country and was captain of the cross country team his senior year. He moved to Lonoke County, Arkansas the summer after his college graduation and went to work for Jeff and Merle Fletcher to train to manage their farming operation. The operation consisted of some 40 families and approximately 90 mules at that time. After the death of Mr. Fletcher, McNeil continued to work for Mrs. Merle until 1968, when he purchased the farm equipment and cattle operation from her and began renting her farm land.
McNeil was active in his early years in many community and agricultural activities. He was a fifty-year Mason, a long-time member of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Agricultural Council of Arkansas, the Lonoke County Equalization Board, and Lonoke County Drainage District No. 5. He also served as a member of the board of directors of the Arkansas Plantation Agriculture Museum in Scott, was a member of both the Arkansas and National Cattlemen’s Association and Ducks Unlimited. He was also a Justice of the Peace for Fletcher Township. He was a long-time member of and served as a deacon of First Presbyterian Church in Lonoke. McNeil and his family were the 1991 Lonoke County and District Farm Family of the Year. He was a conservationist and devout steward of the land. For 70 years, he successfully raised, cultivated, and harvested his crops in southeast Lonoke County. He was fond of saying that the best crop he ever raised was his four children.
He met Sara Ann “Sally” Rogers in 1960, and they were married from 1961 until Sally’s death in January, 2006. The couple enjoyed traveling together and with their children.
In addition to his first wife, he was also preceded in death by his parents, William Samuel “Mac” McNeil Sr. and Sarah Crowell McNeil, his sister, Mary Ann McNeil Garren, his second wife, Betty McElrath McNeil, and a stepson, Gordon “Gordy” Tarter Jr. He is survived by his wife, Juanita “Jackie” Taylor Tarter McNeil.
McNeil is also survived by his children, daughter Sara Elizabeth McNeil (John Bentley “Jack” Zibluk), son, Bill McNeil (Myra), son, Roger McNeil (Reagan), and daughter, Mary Ann McNeil Schoeffler (William Hamilton Schoeffler), stepdaughter, Jan Pasley (Mike Pasley), grandchildren, Jackson (Kendall) McNeil, Emma McNeil, Mac McNeil, Morgan McNeil, Will McNeil, Sara Catherine McNeil “Kate” Zibluk, William Witherspoon “Whit” Schoeffler and Samuel McNeil “Sam” Schoeffler and numerous step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren.
Special thanks are due to Jan and Mike Pasley and their family for their wonderful care and love. The family also extends special thanks to his excellent caregivers and Arkansas Hospice. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, May 27, at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. The funeral follows on Tuesday, May 28, at 10 a.m. at Boyd Funeral Home with a graveside service following.
Memorials may be made to Berea College, CPO 2216, Berea, KY 40404 or the Open Arms Shelter, 1500 Navajo Trail, Lonoke, AR 72086.