Col. Ralph L. Neale
Col. Ralph L. Neale, age 80, of Merrill, passed away Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 at Hospice House in Wausau.
Ralph was born Aug. 17, 1934 in Packwaukee Township, Marquette County to the late Frances (Skinner) and Kermit Neale. He graduated from Montello High School in 1952 where he was class president for four years and lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track. He then enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned his B.S., his M.S. and PHD degrees in education and began his lifelong love of the Badgers. He earned a major W letter as a member of the wrestling team.
After graduating, he married Janis Robinson on June 29, 1957 at Trinity Methodist Church in Montello. Ralph then began his military career at Officer’s Training School and paratrooping school at Fort Benning, GA. After two years active duty, he remained in the Army Reserve attaining the rank of colonel. His association with his Army friends at the 5045th School was very special. He was a recipient of the Outstanding Service Award as a major in 1972.
Ralph began his career in education at Monroe High School, teaching math and science, was head football and wrestling coach and assisted in track. He became principal of New Richmond in 1964 and then returned to Madison to open up Madison Memorial High School as an assistant principal and athletic director. He also was principal at LaFollette before becoming superintendent for the Middleton/Cross Plains School System from 1975-1983. He served as Elroy Hirsch’s Deputy Athletic Director from 1983-1989 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He returned to public education in 1989 at Westfield before joining the Merrill Area Public Schools as Superintendent. He retired in 1997 but continued to serve districts as an interim in Ladysmith, Mauston and Marathon City.
While in Madison, Ralph and Jan were active members of Asbury United Methodist Church. He was a Mason, member of the Zor Shrine, a Rotarian and a member of the National W Club. In retirement he volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, Merrill School Forest and worked many hours at Christ United Methodist Church. He was also a member of Lincoln County Retired Teachers. He helped start youth football in Middleton and shared that love with his son, Scott. Their love of flying was also shared. Many happy hours were spent at the Robinson farm by Westfield deer hunting. Some of the happiest times were watching his grandchildren’s sporting events. He was so proud when Ann followed him in an education career.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Jan; son, Scott (Holly); daughter, Ann; grandchildren, Bennett, Sydney and Samantha; sister, Joan; brother, John; and many nieces, nephews and friends.
Preceded in death by his sister; Jean Krentz.
He dearly loved his family, friends and country and we loved him.
Funeral services will be held 10:30 AM Tuesday, October 21 at Christ United Methodist Church. Pastor Angie Steinhauer will officiate. Visitation will be from 4-7 PM Monday, October 20 at Waid Funeral Home and again from 9 AM until the time of service at the church Tuesday. Burial will be 2:30 p.m. in Montello City Cemetery. Full Military Honors will be conducted.
In lieu of flowers memorials preferred to Christ United Methodist Church or you can make a donation to an athletic scholarship that will be established in Ralph’s name.
Waid Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be made at www.waidfuneral.com.