Dr. Robert A. “Bob” Neill Jr., 90, passed away on Monday, June 1, 2020 after a long eventful life. According to his wishes he has been cremated and there will be no public services.
Bob was born in Missoula, MT on May 23, 1930 to R.A. “Art” and Lois (Longstaff) Neill of Helena. After preschool years near Clearwater Junction and in Great Falls, he attended Helena Public Schools, graduating from Helena High in 1948. While there he was fortunate enough to have been the center on Coach Lloyd Skor’s Bengal basketball team in 1947 and 1948 and was also involved in many other school activities. He was elected Lt. Governor of the first Montana Boy’s State ever held in 1947.
Bob took pre-med at the University of Montana and studied Medicine at the University of Oregon Medical School in Portland. While there he married Ruth Wilde, a VA nurse formerly from Judith Gap. They had three children, Robert A. III, Sandra Leilani and David Carrol.
Upon graduating from Medical school in 1955 he immediately joined the U.S. Army. While in the service, attaining the rank of Major, he was an Intern, Resident and served as Chief of Dermatology, Chief of Medicine, Post Surgeon, Hospital Commander and Field Hospital Commander at various military hospitals in the Territory of Hawaii, San Antonio, San Francisco, Okinawa, Colorado Springs and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
After leaving the service in 1963 Bob was in the private practice of Dermatology in Great Falls and Butte until 2001, when he became Chief of Dermatology for the U.S. Veteran’s Administration in Montana until retiring in 2010.
Being a lifetime believer in Jesus Christ he felt that his greatest blessing was his family. Son Rob became his favorite hunting partner at the age of 10 and that never stopped. He was also very close to his daughter, Lani. The biggest tragedy of his life being her untimely death from Lupus in 2009 after fighting the disease for 33 years.
He was also gifted with a close relationship with his brother, Ken and had a tight circle of close, loyal friends and most particularly with his best friend, Diane Sarti.
Recreationally he was an aficionado of hunting (particularly geese and thus his nickname “The Honker”), fishing and collecting saloon related antiques. He loved his home on the Missouri between Ulm and Cascade and his cabin in the Big Hole west of Dillon.
Bob also considered himself to be a staunch patriot. He loved the United States and particularly the service people who have protected it. This started when he was a paper boy at Fort Harrison during World War II, becoming close friends with the soldiers of the First Special Service Force (“Devil’s Brigade”) when they trained there. “I loved those guys like brothers and Mom would have them two at a time for Sunday dinners.”
If Bob was proud of anything besides his own family, it was this association with our troops and his own service: as a military physician for over 8 years and a doctor to our veterans for nearly 9 more years.
Survivors include his son, Dr. Rob (Susie); Grandsons, Matt (Alex) and David (Ashlea); Great grandchildren, Sophia, Madison, Jackson and Clara Ruth; brother, Judge Kenneth (Sharon Ann); Son-in-law Ed Hull; friend Diane, and many wonderful relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Ruth; newborn son David and daughter Lani.
Memorials in Bob’s name may be made to the Maclean-Cameron Animal Adoption Center, PO Box 3426 Great Falls, MT 59403.
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