William (Bill) Clay Neese, 83 passed away Sunday, January 3, 2016 at home with his family near. He was born in a two-bedroom house a quarter mile away, and other than the 15 months he spent in Japan during the Korean War, he never lived farther than three miles from Poland.
Bill was born September 16, 1932 to Clifford and Lola (Nees) Neese. He was the youngest of 5 children. He lived 82 healthy years until he was diagnosed with ALS in October 2015. His health had been declining rapidly since January 2015, but he took it all in stride, like every issue he ever faced.
He graduated from Bowling Green High School in 1950 and was drafted into the Army on March 23rd, 1953. He served in Otsu, Japan as a Personnel Management Specialist, and later was entrusted to handle the Officers records. Bill was honorably discharged, as a Corporal, in 1954, and began his lifelong career of farming. He married Juanita Vitz on January 15, 1956. He was the youngest original member of the Poland Volunteer Fire Department.
Growing up the son of a tenant farmer, his desire was to own his own land, and parcel by parcel his dreams were achieved during his 60 years of farming. What he considered his greatest accomplishment was the 9 parcels of ground in the Poland Eel River bottoms that he purchased one-by-one. He fulfilled his vision to connect and improve them and that became his favorite spot to sit atop the hill and watch the sun set.
He was first to do many things that others said couldn’t be done; like successfully farming without chickens, building a grain bin others thought could never be filled and purchased the 4th round baler sold in Indiana. Because he believed in diversification, he always had livestock as well as grain. In the early years, he raised pigs, but later on his love was his cattle. He knew his “girls” well and really loved calving time each fall. He felt that farming could never change as much as it had during his lifetime, beginning with draft horses and ending with tractors navigated with GPS.
He had a great love for horses and loved buying, selling and trading. He had owned many mares and stallions over the years. His horses brought him into contact with many people from all walks of life.
He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter Elaine Berkowitz, Stamford, CT; and three brothers, Herschel, Ray and Don Neese, and a sister Evelyn Jane Cline.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Juanita; daughter Janet (Mike) Van Nevel of Alexandria, KY; son Gary A. (Michele) Neese of Poland; son-in-law Harry Berkowitz of Stamford, CT, and two grandsons, Cole Neese and Sam Berkowitz.
Services will be held at Lawson – Miller Chapel, 1702 East National Ave. Brazil, Indiana, Saturday, January 16, 2016, at 3pm, with Rev. Mark Grayless officiating. Family and friends are welcome to gather from 1pm until time of services. At Bill’s request cremation services will be provided. Graveside services will be held at Poland Zion U.C.C. Cemetery at a later date.
The family requests that memorial contributions be made in lieu of flowers to Serving on the Streets (SOS) to continue with Bill’s desire to help others locally. 100 N Forest Avenue, Brazil, IN 47834.