LAKELAND - James D. Neff passed away from heart failure on Dec. 22, 2012.
Jim was born in 1923 to Albert and Nellie Neff. He grew up in Missouri living in a home with dirt floors, until the age of 16, when he forged his mother's name to enlist in the army
. He went on to serve 9 years.
He began his restaurant career working in his fathers restaurant. He continued his work as a chef in the army, then worked in several other restaurants including working for NASA
in Cape Canaveral. He began building his own restaurant empire when he and his former wife Shirley started the Foxfire Inn in 1967. This was Polk County's first world class restaurant and entertainment lounge. Many famous acts and bands played there. He went on to open other restaurants throughout Florida. The end of the Foxfire came after the death of his son Kirk in 1989. His heart was no longer in it. His hobbies included buying and selling cars, motorcycle riding and racing (in earlier days), and playing golf and gin with all of his buddies at Lone Palm.
He is survived by his wife Beth, son Kevin Neff, daughters Lee Rostron (John) of Missouri, Victoria Cornish (Roi), and Jamie Neff. He has seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren as well as his sister Juanita Hopper of Kansas and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his sister Cleopha Kerstein and son Kirk Neff.
Funeral services at 2pm Friday, December 28th, 2012 at Lakeland Funeral Home.