About Joe Bob Neely
Joe Bob Neely passed away on March 3, 2013 at the age of 87. He was born in Tempe on Sept. 8, 1925, the third of four children of Steven T. and Bonnie Neely. He graduated from Tempe High School and Arizona State College (now ASU).
He is survived by his wife of 66 years Margaret (“Rickie”); son Robert, married to Sally Neely; son Gary; and daughter Charlotte, married to David Cummings. He is also survived by 5 grandchildren: Stephanie, married to Max Gladstone, Robin, Kenneth, Jared, and Christopher.
Joe Bob lived his entire life in Tempe except when he served his country as a naval aviator in World War II. Joe Bob and Rickie enjoyed their second home in Pinetop at White Mountain Country Club, where they spent over 50 wonderful summers, building lifelong friendships. Other than a few years in college working for El Paso Natural Gas, he spent his entire career as a farmer in the greater Tempe area. In his long, full life, he was a paper boy, an Eagle Scout, a successful farmer, and Salt River Project Board and Council member for 22 years. He was an early member, Greens Committee Chair and President of White Mountain Country Club and White Mountain Summer Homes, and an early member of Mesa Country Club where he served as Greens Chair and Vice President. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, and a great friend. Joe Bob never forgot a name or a face. He couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone he knew and remembering them, calling them by name. He was respected as a tough but honest and fair businessman, a “straight shooter.”
Joe Bob was a gifted athlete, playing high school varsity baseball, football, and basketball, as well as college basketball and baseball at Arizona State where he was a member of the first Sun Devil baseball team. He was inducted into the Halls of Fame of the Arizona Softball Foundation and the International Softball Congress. Three-time All-American and 11-time All-State center fielder, he played on 10 state championship fast-pitch softball teams. A power hitter of awesome proportions, at the time of his inductions he still held the record for consecutive home runs (five) in Major League play. He embraced golf as an adult, and carried a 6 handicap for many years. He was an outdoorsman, enjoying hunting and fishing into his late 70s.
He lived his life with dignity and honor, and left with no regrets. He will be missed by his family and many, many friends.