“Just ask Bobby McNeill he’ll be able to tell you.”
That was the response when someone wondered about weather, market prices, any information from decades gone by.
The Newton farmer had the best memory of happenings in agriculture, family and community for 90 years.
Heartfelt sadness streamed after a call that the uncle-in-law passed away.
Since death of his wife Dolores two years ago, Bobby remained active first consideration for family and farming. Yet, in recent clearly written cards, he admitted loneliness missing his spouse of 64 years.
When ailment intruded the lengthy lifetime, Bobby was intent to stay in his farm home. Six daughters and two sons, affectionately calling him “Pa,” were dedicated loving caretakers.
Growing up on his Mom’s family farm, Bobby experienced hardships of the Dirty 30s Great Depression. Actually appreciated in maturity, Bobby was expected by his grandfather to do a man’s work as a boy.
Modern technology was limited as horse and mule teams powered farm machinery. Work was done by hand milking cows, gathering eggs, slopping hogs twice daily.
(Appropriately, Bobby harnessed ponies Trigger and Pat to the carriage for leaving the church on personal wedding day 48-years ago.)
Born into a devout family, prayer was present all of Bobby’s close-knit farm life. Regardless blizzard or smoldering summer, church was every Sunday. It was a long 20-mile journey each direction for Bobby’s family with a team and carriage before automobiles.
Sisters, resembling each other, married an uncle and his nephew Bobby making relatives on both sides of the family. When Bobby proposed to Dolores despite apparent love, her demand was saying the rosary together every day. His promise was never broken.
Farm burdens existed without remorse while family devotion persisted as the children were always in their parochial school chairs.
Generally having some off-farm income, Bobby was forever generous helping others during harvest, silo filling, whatever must be done.
Donating five gallons of blood during his lifetime, Bobby was a leader in church and community. Seldom missing morning coffee shoptalk with farm cronies, Bobby regularly attended farm auctions and weekly livestock sales.
Appropriately two of Bobby’s tractors followed the hearse in funeral procession. Into eternity Bobby’s service will remain through his children, 27 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren.
Reminded of Esther 8:27: “Generational traditions shall be continued by descendants.”