Stacy Frey Neild, 31, of Brisbane, Australia, formerly of Great Falls, died of chronic Lyme's disease/ALS on Monday, March 4, at her home.
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A funeral liturgy is 1 p.m. Friday at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, with inurnment to follow in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Stacy was born Feb. 10, 1982, in Great Falls, to David and Debra Frey. Stacy attended elementary school at Holy Family Catholic School where she served as an altar girl during that time. She attended middle school at Paris Gibson Middle School, where she maintained straight A's and did not miss one day of school from 6th to 8th grade. Stacy was very athletic and participated in basketball, volleyball, track, softball and swimming. Stacy found a life passion in the 6th grade when she began competitive swimming with the Falls Aquatic Swim Team (F.A.S.T). It didn't take long for Stacy to work her way from the bottom to the top of the charts, becoming one of the top swimmers in the state of Montana. The girl could swim! She even traveled to Australia as a 16-year-old to represent Montana at the multi-national meet. I remember a recruiting coach stating that "Stacy out of water would be a talent wasted."
Stacy graduated with honors in 2000 from Great Falls High School. Despite her interest in drama, softball and general attention seeking, Stacy was able to focus on high school and swimming and earned an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo.
College was a time of excitement for Stacy, and during her four years at UNC, she swam and won, developed her independence, spent her first two summers in New York and met an Australian boy named Michael at Camp Echo.
Stacy loved to travel and the energetic traveling escalated during her college years, with her first choice adventuring companion, Liz White, charging around the world with little preparation and a lot of laughter. Spring break road trips to Texas and California and a poorly planned month-long trip to New Zealand were stand-out experiences.
Stacy had some great prospects when she graduated from college in 2004. However, she made the brave decision to give love a chance and moved to Australia in October. The transition to live on the other side of the world was not without struggle; however, Stacy quickly built a community of loved ones around her and set her attention to molding her new family into the people she knew they really wanted to be.
Stacy spent the next few years working her way up the retail clothing chain-hiring, firing and mothering a crop of young Brisbane girls. She traveled to Africa, back home to Montana and in 2007, over to Brooklyn, New York, for seven months of big city lifestyle.
Stacy and Michael became engaged in 2007 on the same street corner in Manhattan that they had spent part of their first day together in 2001. The wedding was a glorious Montana week-long festival at the end of the summer in 2008.
The next chapter of Stacy's life began with a great new job as a Captain Starlight, transforming the lives of seriously ill children and their families every day at hospitals around the state with the Starlight Children's Foundation. Captain Courageous was the outward embodiment of Stacy's loving and compassionate spirit. Despite battling with a motor neuron disease, Stacy continued to travel and soaked up experiences with trips to Tasmania, Vanuatu, Southeast Asia and back to the USA twice during 2009 and 2010. Stacy returned to Brisbane and energetically set to building her nest in a lovely bright home in the west of the city.
Stacy loved the outdoors, hiking, biking, boating, swimming and camping. She loved all kinds of animals; however, three dachshunds stole her heart, starting with Ottis, her very first dachshund. Then came her two girls in 2011, Evie and Greta, who brought much joy into her life. Ironically, Ottis passed away five days prior to Stacy's passing, and I know they are together now. Stacy loved children and planned to have four or five of her own. Stacy also loved her family and friends. She was always looking after her Mom. Stacy was known for her smile that could light up any room, her vibrant personality, generosity, humor and the joy she had brought to so many lives in such a short time. Stacy lived and loved to her full potential for 31 years. It was packed full, and that is how she planned it.
Stacy was greatly loved by many and will be deeply missed, but never forgotten. Her memories will live on in all of us forever.
Stacy is survived by her husband, Michael Neild of Brisbane, Australia; parents David and Debra Frey of Great Falls; sister Stephanie Frey of Bolivia, N.C.; paternal grandmother Arlene (Enie) Frey of Port Orange, Fla.; aunts and uncles Kathleen Gilchrist of Michigan, Patricia Gilchrist of Florida, Carolyn (Tom) Zaffer of Ohio, Harold Gilchrist of Great Falls, Connie McGovern of Texas, Jim (Ruth) Frey of Great Falls, Denny (Dawn) Frey of Florida and Jeff Frey of Florida; and numerous cousins.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Eula and Harold Gilchrist and Jim Frey. Her grandfathers and beloved grams (Eula, Harold and Jim) and her pet Ottis greeted Stacy on her return home-too soon for those left behind.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are appreciated in Stacy's name to the Starlight Children's Foundation, 2049 Century Park E, Ste 4320, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Condolences may be posted online at www.schniderfuneralhome.com and/or www.gftribune.com/obituaries.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Apr. 10, 2013