James Edward Neeley, Sr, known to his family and friends as “Jim” or “Neeley”, of Chapel Hill, NC passed away in his sleep on the morning of Friday, January 19, 2024, at the age of 86 after a valiant battle with leukemia.
He is survived by four children – Jennifer (David Guidry), Melissa, James (Becky Blasingame), and Rose (Harry Oxnard II) – and seven grandchildren – Christopher (Hannah), Michelle, Jeremy, Lucy, Harry, Teddy, and Tommy. He was preceded by his wife, Constance “Connie” Neeley (nee Provenzale), sisters Shirley, Gladys, Jeanette, brothers Lawrence and William and daughter Michelle.
Jim, born in Warsaw, NY, graduated from Gowanda Central High School in 1955. He proudly served on the USS Harwood DDE-861 in the US Navy from 1955 until his honorable discharge in 1958. While in service, he earned the rare certificate of Shellback for crossing the equator. He worked for IBM as a programmer for over 31 years, moving up and down the east coast before settling in Chapel Hill in 1988. Jim made notable contributions to the New York City traffic light algorithm and the development of the wireless LAN. After retiring from IBM, Jim worked with the Duke Hospital Auxiliary for 15 years.
He volunteered with the Durham County Library for many years and was a great contributor to Peer Learning of Chapel Hill as treasurer. The custom Excel spreadsheet he created for enrollment and dues contained complex Excel formulas served as his white whale, and in his final years was both a welcome diversion and source of profound vexation.
Jim was handy in many areas. He built many of the mailbox posts for his neighbors of Downing Creek. His masterwork was a standing gazebo and segmented staircase off the back deck of his family home. Jim enjoyed keeping his mind engaged. He was an avid reader of mysteries and history, he loved solving puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, and participating in weekly trivia at Tomato Jake’s with his family. He liked his burgers “still mooing”, his pizza with peppers, and his beer dark. His favorite writing surface was the back of mail envelopes or any scrap of space available on paper.
Jim was a lifelong donor, giving over 55 gallons (one oil drum) of platelets to the Red Cross. Digital donation records begin in 1993. Estimates are close to two drums of donation in his lifetime. In the end, he needed a few of those back.
His final wish to be a gift to science for learning has been made a reality. He has been accepted to Western Carolina University’s FOREST and Forensic Anthropology Project. The FOREST serves to educate students and professionals through experiential learning. His skeleton will be kept indefinitely to teach generations of students, researchers, coroners, anthropologists the broader field of taphonomy.
He was a kind man – easy-mannered, self-mocking, and his stories took amusing and unexpected tangents. He will be cherished and missed by all who had the good fortune to encounter him in his life’s journey.
In lieu of flowers or trees, the family asks that you donate blood or platelets or perform a random act of kindness in his memory.
We have begun a donation campaign in his name:
As a community service, The Local Reporter publishes obituaries of local residents free of charge. Send to email@example.com.