Kenneth Neal (1895-1970)

Grandpa Kenneth Neal’s birthday was July 5, so the clan celebrated with fireworks, along with cake and homemade ice cream. Cousin Vince Wells told this story: “The one I remember best was at Shepherd’s when a spark inadvertently fell into the box of fireworks and there was a memorable finale. Rockets were flying in all directions.
“Grandpa commented after all was over and no injuries or property damage that he had never seen a bunch of Presbyterians move so fast.”

It was the spring of 1970. Guy was home from Vietnam (early, because of the death of his father) and was discharged from the U.S. Air Force, having served since 1966.

I’d paid off my National Defense Student Aid loan, had my bottom wisdom teeth pulled, and sewed a green dress, and the Presbyterian Church traded in their pump organ for a Hammond electronic one. (Yes, from my diary.)

And Gloria I took lilacs to Grandpa Neal in the Dexter hospital. He’d been using oxygen at home, even while he continued to smoke. But that day in the hospital, May 8, I realized that the only grandfather I ever knew wasn’t going to get well.

Kenneth Neal was taken to a Des Moines hospital on May 19, but later was brought back to the Dexter hospital where he died four days short of his 75th birthday.

Kenneth Neal Rites Held Friday

DEXTER: Services were conducted Friday, July 3, at the First United Presbyterian Church by Rev. Chas. T. White for Kenneth Neal. Organ music was provided by Mrs. Maryon Hadley with Mrs. Judy White sing[ing] the Twenty-Third Psalm.

Casket bearers were grandsons, Vincent Wells, Kenneth Sh[ep]herd, Jon Shepherd, Bill Beaman, Ben Beaman, Thomas Isenhart and Noel Ki[d]ney. Flowers were cared for by the church committee. Interment was at the Dexter Cemetery.

Kenneth was born on the 5th of July, 1895 to Orland[o] Swain and Nellie Keith Neal in Guthrie County, and passed away after an illness in the Dexter hospital, at age age of 74 years, 11 months, 26 days.

Kenneth was a life-long member of the Dexter Presbyterian Church, serving as Ruling Elder for many years. He spent his entire life as a farmer near Dexter except for four years in L.A. Calif. Kenneth attended rural schools near Dexter and the high school at Dexter. [He did not graduate.]

November 29, 1916 he wedded Ruby Blohm. They had six children. Kenneth is survived by his wife, Ruby and sons, Warren, Bill, and Scott, daughters Nadine, (Mrs. John Shepherd), Betty, (Mrs. Mervin Wells), Marian, (Mrs. Harvey Beaman); 14 Grand Children and 2 great Grand Children, one brother, Maurice Neal of Dexter. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, Keith, and a sister Marjorie [Mrs. Kenneth Lenocker].

Kenneth and Ruby celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1966. Greatest enjoyment in his retiring years was his grandchildren and every Sunday always counted how many were in the choir. Sometimes this would add up to twelve, at one time. On the day of the Golden Wedding Celebration, the grandchildren organized a special choir of all ages and ser[e]naded their Grandparents during the morning worship hours.

Kenneth and Ruby Neal, Gold Wedding Anniversary celebration, Dexter, Iowa, November 1966.

Obituary from the July 9, 1970, edition of The Dexfield Review-Sentinel.

According to Ruby Neal, because Kenneth had a matched team of nice horses and lived close to the town of Dexter, he was often called upon to drive them for the hearse to the cemetery.


He also sang in a quartet called the “Metha-Quaka-Terians” because it was made up of men from the three denominations–Methodist, Quaker, and Presbyterian.

St. Peter Kenneth Neal 001 (3)
Written by Merrill Winsell “Bud” Neal, a nephew, son of Keith Neal.

Kenneth Neal is buried in the Dexter Cemetery, along with his parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and a great great grandfather.


  1. Enjoyed reading about Kenneth Neal…He was a nice man… here a tidbit you probably never knew…….When I was in highschool, late 1940’s, various means were used to choose …I THINK it was homecoming queen… One year, students were to bring corn…ear corn if I remember…and winner was one with most corn brought in…… I remember going to Kenneth Neal’s place…don’t know who else, it was a group of us…and we were visiting farmers we knew…He went to his Government Sealed corn crib and gave us some corn.. (illegal? yep..a Whole Bushel full) I don’t remember who won the contest that year…

  2. Awe. Joy, what an excellent tribute. What a handsome man he was. Absolutely love the quartet name. The photos & pages may yellow, but the memories are in brilliant color. God’s grip – Alan

  3. We all loved going to Grandpa and Grandma Neal’s. The first place we would have would be to the refrigerator to get a bottle of Coke. And she always had those lemon drops out! On Sundays when they would come and visit after church, grandpa would say, “We are just out slumming.” I remember how he would sit in his chair with the Vicks vapor rub next to him and his pipe always by his side.

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