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John Starr Neely Jr.


1932 - 2019
John Starr Neely Jr. Obituary
John Starr Neely, Jr.

Tallahassee - John Starr Neely Jr. passed away peacefully on May 22, 2019. In his own words his "life began with the proverbial howl of indignation" on July 24, 1932 in Chattanooga, Tennessee to John Starr Neely Sr. and Aline Mason Neely. At the age of three, his family moved to Gastonia, North Carolina where he resided through high school. John was class President each of his Gastonia High School years. He tried out for the basketball team but said "because of my smallness of stature my name was quickly removed from the list of hopefuls". He became a member of the golf team which would become his life-long passion. In his senior year, he was chosen by his school to attend Boy's State. He was also selected to represent the state of North Carolina at the National Boy's Forum in Washington, D.C. where he had the honor of meeting President Truman. He was a member of The Order of DeMaloy, a spiritual as well as social fraternity, sponsored by the Masonic Bodies. As a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia, he was Chairman of the Commission on Christian Faith and served as President of the Youth Fellowship. After graduation, John attended Duke University undergraduate and Law School after winning the prestigious Angier Duke Scholarship. John was a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. While in law school, he married the love of his life, Janet Griffin. After graduation, they moved to Ft. Lauderdale where John became a partner in the law firm of Fleming O'Brien and Fleming. He served as Managing Partner the last three years of practice. While practicing law, John was a member of the Florida Bar Association, American Bar Association, served two terms on the Florida Bar Board of Governors and served as President of both the American Trial Lawyers Association and International Academy of Trial Lawyers. After retiring from the practice of law, he attended the Harvard Kennedy School of Law where he received his Executive Certificate in Mediation. Outside of his law practice, John was active in his community. He was a member of Rotary International and though, not a veteran, a member of the Navy League. A man of strong faith, John was an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Ft. Lauderdale, a Sunday school teacher and Director of Youth Fellowship. In 1994 John and Janet moved to Maitland, Florida where John practiced Mediation. In 1999, he and Janet retired to Tallahassee. They became members of Faith Presbyterian Church. John served as an active member of the Killearn Kiwanis and was a past member of the Pebble Creek Neighborhood Association board. John loved all things golf and had an enviable swing! He looked forward to his annual trips to The Masters. John was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 59 years and grandson Austin John Miller. He is survived by his brother Robert Mason Neely of Tryon, North Carolina, his children, Sharon Miller (Bruce) of Ponce Inlet, Leslie Rupp (Mike) of Tallahassee and John Starr Neely III of Tallahassee. His grandchildren, Nikki Rupp and Joe Rupp of Tallahassee, Mandy Rhodes (Brad) of Jacksonville, Griffin Zysk (Tom) of Apollo Beach, Brittany Weaver (Josh) of Delray Beach, Max Miller (Lynn) of Ponce Inlet. His six great-grandchildren, Preslie and Gracen Rhodes, Remington and Bowynn Zysk, Garland and Ford Weaver. John was a loving husband, father and servant of the Lord; a man of deep faith and values admired by all who knew him. A private family memorial service will be held in North Carolina at a later date. The families would like to thank the tender, loving hands and hearts of the angels at Big Bend Hospice and Hospice House for their care and compassion. Contributions, in John's name, may be sent to Big Bend Hospice, Inc. 1723 Mahan Center Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32308.
Published in Tallahassee Democrat on June 2, 2019
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