April 3, 1915 – August 12, 2013
We are sad to announce that our father and grandfather died on August 12th, 2013 at the age of 98.
Neil was born on a dairy farm near Oak Lake, Manitoba, on April 3rd, 1915. He had a very happy childhood with his parents, Clara Gillespie and George McLeish, one sister, and five brothers – Jack, Geordie, Scotty, Ron, Margaret, and Dan. It was always one of the joys in Neil’s life to go home to Manitoba to visit with his family.
Neil met his wife of sixty-two years, Vera Smeltz, in Oak Lake when she went to board with her sister, Myrtle, while going to high school. Neil loves to tell the story of seeing her outside of the General Store. His friend asked him if he knew who the new girl was and if he had met her. Neil answered: “I haven’t met her but I know that she is Myrtle’s sister and I’m going to marry her someday.”
Neil was overseas serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force for every day of World War II and Vera trained as a nurse and a secretary while he was away. Of course, they did marry when he came home and they lived a happy life together. Neil stayed in the R.C.A.F. after World War II and he was very proud of his twenty-six years’ service to our country. The only thing that he was more proud of was marrying “the prettiest Smeltz girl”. Vera and Neil moved all over Canada and England with their two children, Dennis and Wendy, during Neil’s career and they led a very exciting life. After Neil’s retirement from the R.C.A.F., in 1964, they settled in Calgary and he went to work for the City of Calgary as a supervisor of golf courses until his retirement at age sixty-five. Their son, Dennis, died from leukemia in 1977 and this was the greatest tragedy in their lives. They both took wonderful care of Dennis while he was sick and they did their best to help him to die peacefully.
Shortly after Dennis’s death, the births of Neil’s granddaughters, Jennifer and Sarah, helped him to have joy in his life again. Jen and Sarah are missing their Grandpa terribly. Neil’s daughter, Wendy, and son-in-law, Darrel, also survive Neil and are so sad about his death. Neil’s life-time love, Vera, died in 2007 and Neil missed her for the rest of his life.
We thank all of the many, many friends and relatives who faithfully visited Neil over the years and made his life full and fun.
Please come and help us to celebrate Neil’s life. Friends and family are invited to gather for a funeral service in memory of Neil at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY’S Park Memorial Chapel (5008 Elbow Drive S.W. Calgary, AB) on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. If desired, donations may be made in Neil’s name to the charity that his much-loved, baby brother, Danny, also chose – the SPCA, 4455 – 110 Avenue S.E. Calgary, AB. T2C 2T7, (403) 205 – 4455.Print This Obituary & Condolences