Thomas McNeil, 85

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thomas "Cy" Smith McNeil, 85, of Mountain Home, died Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007, at a Boise hospital.

Services were held Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Mountain Home LDS Stake Center. Arrangements were under the direction of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel in Mountain Home.

Thomas was born March 15, 1921, in Preston, Idaho, the son of Ether Erastus and Thelma Margaret (Smith) McNeil.

"Dad had the rare opportunity of seeing man advance beyond even his wildest dreams," his family said. "Dad went from riding horses on the farm to riding motorcycles in the desert, from watching birds fly to seeing man fly."

In his early years, his family moved frequently until they finally settled in Boise during his teenage years. "That didn't stop dad from wandering though," his family said. "Dad's playground was the whole southern portion of Idaho."

He spent many of his summer months with his grandparents in Arimo, Idaho, and during the winter months attending school and working various jobs which included working as one of the first ushers for the Egyptian Theater in Boise.

After graduating from the 8th grade he joined the CCC. He was on several crews that built the roads around the Anderson and Arrowrock dam areas.

Dec. 7, 1941, changed his life forever. He had been attending Boise Junior College when he heard the news about Pearl Harbor. One week later, on Dec. 15, 1941, he joined the US Marine Corps. He served honorably for four years, including four engagements in the South Pacific where his company came under fire. For their efforts, he along with his company, received the Presidential Citation award in 1943.

Upon receiving his discharge on Dec. 14, 1945, he took some time to relax and enjoy life, riding his motorcycle throughout all of southern Idaho, and often told tales of riding his Triumph Indian motorcycle over the mountains of Owyhee County.

At the age of 30 he decided to take life another step further and "proposed to the lovely brunette who would be his beloved wife for 55 years," Beverly Jean Jones, his family said. They were married Dec. 1, 1951, in Boise. Ten children were brought to that union. This marriage was later solemnized in the Idaho Falls temple.

They spent most of their lives exploring the beauties of the Pacific Northwest, where he worked as a forest firefighter, a logger and a manufacturer with Boeing Airlines, until finally settling in Mountain Home in 1971, where he worked for Earl Stone of Stoney's Vending Machines, "forging a friendship that would last a lifetime."

"Dad was an avid musician," his family said. "He had a unique talent for music and learned to play the piano, guitar, bass guitar, banjo, ukulele and harmonica." Some of his family's best memories are of him playing the harmonica. "Until the ravages of Alzheimer's took away his memory, he carried his beloved harmonica in his shirt pocket. Everywhere dad went he either joined a band or formed one. We used to have jam sessions in our home with dad and his bands."

He was a lifetime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

McNeil is survived by: his wife Beverly Jean (Jones) McNeil: his daughter, Melody, and her husband, Jim Fairbanks, of Lacon, Ill.; his son, James V. McNeil of Mountain Home; his daughter, Betty, and her husband, Tut Whitney, of Nenana, Alaska; his daughter, Christina Morrison of Mountain Home; his son, Buster, and his wife, Sue McNeil, of Nenana, Alaska; his son, Robert McNeil of Glenns Ferry; his daughter, Theresa, and her husband, Shane Shields, of Nenana, Alaska; his daughter, Emaly Spencer, of Nenana, Alaska; his brother, Boyd McNeil of Tooele, Utah; his sister, Margaret, and her husband, Dr. John Bideganeta; of Mountain Home; his brother-in-law Kenneth, and his wife, Nancy Jones, of Tipanuk; 30 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by three sisters, two brothers, a son, a daughter, a brother in-law, a sister in-law, two granddaughters, and one great-granddaughter.

Memorials can be made in his memory to the VA Hospital of Boise.