Dwayne Neal, 78, of Arkansas City, KS, passed away on Wednesday January 13, 2021 at his residence. Born on October 31, 1942, in Phoenix, Arizona. He was the son of Harry LeRoy and Blanche Julia (Gill) Neal who resided in Tempe, AZ. As a child he lived with his family in Regina, New Mexico, where his paternal grandparents lived.
Dwayne was united in marriage to Rebecca Gearhardt on September 12, 1975 at the Presbyterian Church in Newkirk, OK. They met on a dance floor and continued to dance through life for over 45 years. They resided in Ponca City a short time and then made their home in Arkansas City.
A son Gregory Dustin “Dusty” was born in August of 1979. The family enjoyed vacations to Colorado, New Mexico and many trips to Missouri and Oklahoma that included fishing. Many flatheads were caught at Winfield Dam and family and friends enjoyed fishing also at Kaw Dam catching spoonbills. Holiday and birthday parties and fish fries were common at the Neal house. Dwayne also enjoyed country music artist Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Don Williams and Freddie Fender. No Matter where or what he was doing, he enjoyed their music with a cold beer in his hand. He often talked about his mother playing a fiddle and brother Buck and Billie singing in the band when they lived in New Mexico. Trips to Coon Hollor Bar & Café as a child where he and the other kids would sit outside and listen to the music and get into mischief.
Dwayne was a self-taught mechanic and could work on any vehicle back in the days before computers. He handed that knowledge down to his son, Dusty. They spent many hours in garage. He rode motorcycles and always wanted to build a 3-wheeler. After retirement, he and Dusty worked a few years and the dream came true. He and Beckyalso enjoyed trips to Missouri and Oklahoma sight-seeing, casino hopping and bingo playing.
Dwayne’s work history started as a child. He called it “following the fruit”. His family traveled throughout California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Texas picking fruit and cotton and he also worked on dairy farms. He came to Kansas from Texas, where he worked as a roofer, oil field derrick hand and farm hand at Bert Shore’s Ranch. On August 4, 1968, he went to work at Rodeo Meat Packing Co for 22 years. After working in several departments, he became the lead man in the rendering department until its closure. The next 15 years were spent at Gordon Piatt Energy Group as a grinder. It closed and he was not ready to retire, so he went to work along side his son at Conklin Welding installing fencing at the McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, KS. That company closed and he “hung it up”.
Dwayne was a people person who enjoyed striking up conversations and joking. He made many friendships during his life. Will Watson and wife Hortense were always special to him and he often used Will’s saying, “You snooze you lose”.
Survivors include his wife Becky of the home; his son Dusty and wife Melissa Neal of Arkansas City; grandchildren, Bryce Michael Rains of Winfield; Leah Nicole Vardy and Savannah Blue Neal of Arkansas City; brother-in-law, John Gearhardt and wife Janet; sister-in-law, Reginna Strobel and husband Stephen, numerous nephews, nieces and great-nephews and nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Harry Leroy “Buck: Neal, Jr., Harriett Julia Richard, Billie Louise Cathey and Freda Mae Fritts, father-in-law, Floyd Gearhardt and mother-in-law, Bertie Gearhardt.
Shelley Family Funeral Home are in charge of arrangements. The family will have a Celebration of Dwayne’s life and final inurnment will take place at Memorial Lawn Cemetery at a later date.
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