Ralph Franklin Neely, of Oxford, MS, died Saturday, January 22, 2022 at his home. Mr. Neely was 94 years old.
The son of Fred Tilden Neely and Pauline Standefer Neely, he was born in California and moved a few months later to Greenwood, Mississippi, where he grew up. He attended Greenwood High School and served briefly in the US Navy until WWII was over. He then graduated from Mississippi State University, where he was on the tennis team and was a proud member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. After college, he met Lewise Ragan from Corinth, a former Miss MSCW, and they married, had a family, and were sweethearts for over 70 years until his death.
Ralph practiced in his father’s Greenwood CPA firm, Fred T. Neely and Company for almost 50 years. He represented Mississippi as a member of the Southern States Conference of CPAs. He helped organize and served as the first president of the MSCPA Delta Chapter in 1960. Ralph represented Mississippi as a member of the Southern States Conference of CPAs. He helped organize and served as the first president of the MSCPA Delta Chapter in 1960. He was president of the Mississippi Society of CPAs in 1966-67, 24 years after his father served in that capacity. Ralph’s contributions to the CPA profession were immense. He was an original trustee of the MSCPA Education Foundation, and one of their graduate scholarships was named for him to honor his long-time service. He enjoyed very close and long lasting friendships with many of his clients.
Ralph was very active in his church and community. He was a faithful and long-time member of Greenwood First United Methodist Church, which he dearly loved. Ralph taught Sunday School and served on several boards, including chairman of the administrative board. Additionally, Ralph served as treasurer of Christian World Missions a ministry in evangelism that was established by his cousin, Cecil Williamson in 1971.
Ralph’s involvement in civic organizations was extensive. He was president of the Greenwood Kiwanis Club, treasurer of the Greater Greenwood Foundation of the Arts, a member of the board of directors of Pillow Academy, Deposit Guaranty Bank, and Greenwood Leflore County Chamber of Commerce.
In 1955 he was the inaugural president of the Greenwood Tennis Association and in subsequent years was instrumental in popularizing adult tennis tournaments in Greenwood. He played regularly with a group of beloved friends. He accumulated quite an impressive array of trophies over the years.
In 1996 Ralph and Lewise retired and moved to Big Canoe, GA where they enjoyed grandchildren, mountain life, and traveling for 12 years. Then they moved back to Mississippi, where they have lived in Oxford for the past 7 years. Ralph loved Mississippi State sports and St. Louis Cardinals baseball.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 69 years, Lewise Ragan Neely; two children, Ralph Franklin Neely, Jr. (Pat) of Memphis, TN and Deanne Neely Hill of Oxford, MS; three grandchildren, Christopher Hill of Atlanta, GA, Madelyn Hill of Oxford, and Kevin Hill of Oxford. The family would like to express their gratitude and thanks to Kindred Hospice for their stellar care of the Neelys over the years.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a private family service.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that donations be made to Greenwood First United Methodist Church, 310 Washington Street, Greenwood, MS 38930; Christian World Missions, P.O. Box 985, Starkville, MS 39760 Samaritan’s Purse, PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607; or to the donors’ favorite charity.
Blessed are those who die in the Lord.
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