B.R. 'Russ' Neathery
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B.R. "Russ" (Uncle Ray) Neathery, of Evansville, Ind., joined his beloved wife, Helen, at 2 a.m. Monday morning. He left this earth in peace from his home in time to make it to the heavenly alter for their 64th wedding anniversary, which is today August 29.
Born December 1, 1917, one of seven brothers and sisters, Russ started in the bowling business in 1945 in Henderson after returning home from World War II.
Russ and Helen purchased Franklin Lanes on Evansville's West Side from Joe O'Daniel and Kenny Kent. The couple owned and operated the lanes from 1956 to 1985, building it into the most bowled upon 20-lane house in the United States. After retiring, they sold the business to life-long friends, David King and Walt Hatcher.
He was president of the Evansville Bowling Proprietors several times, was president of Indiana Bowling Proprietors two terms, and a nationally known member of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America for 30 years, serving on numerous committees. He was inducted into the Evansville Bowling Hall of fame in 1982.
An avid sportsman, Russ was the first Evansville bowler to average 200 for a season in 1954, bowled a 300 game (back in the day when it was a near impossible accomplishment), and won the State Doubles Championship with Jim "Spider" Vaughn in 1962. On the golf course he had at least one hole-in-one and shot his age numerous times well into his late 80's.
Russ was a staunch University of Kentucky fan.
He was a navy veteran, serving in the pacific fleet, a member of the West Side Optimist Club, VFW post 1114, the Evansville Kennel Club, and the Evansville Country Club. He was also a proud Kentucky Colonel, following in the footsteps of his father, the honorable Reverend O.T. Neathery.
A devout Christian soul, Russ was a member of the Salem United Methodist Church in Evansville and the Petrie Memorial United Methodist Church in his hometown of Elkton, Ky.
He is survived by nieces, Rosemary Berry and Joyce Mann; nephews, Tilford Neathery, Billy T. Reiley and Gregory Oreskovich, and their families, including his two loving "grandchildren" Gabriel Ray and Lukas Oreskovich.
The family would like to acknowledge a loving thank you to his Guardian Angel Beryl Ashby, her husband, Don Ashby and granddaughter, Michelle Hamer who cared for Russ for 17 years and helped him keep his promise to his wife, Helen, to never leave her side until death do they part. Also to Kalah Street for bringing joy, laughter and the Love of Christ into his life and heart. And fellow Optimist, Ed Derringe, for remaining until the last days - in true Optimist fashion - a devoted friend.
The family also extends their deepest gratitude to his dedicated Home Instead caregiver team, in particular Chester, Sue M, Beccy, Ruth, Laura, Jason and Michael, who maintained his comfort with unequaled care and compassion and lots of foot rubs. God bless each and every one of you.
A Memorial Service is planned for October 11, 2013, at Pierre Funeral Home on West Franklin Street. In lieu of flowers, and in recognition of Uncle Ray's life dedicated to Evansville's youth, through his youth bowling programs, the Optimist Club friends of youth, the funding of two USI scholarships and other services committed to instilling values in young people across the area, please make contributions to the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville.
Published in Courier Press on Aug. 29, 2013