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After 89 years of a full life, our beloved father, grandfather & great-grandfather Bob passed away. His family and friends spent quality time with him in his last few weeks. Bob had lived at The Forum at Town Center retirement community for over ten years. His wife Sara passed away two years ago also at age 89 on February 24th, 2021 and they enjoyed their years together at The Forum.
Bob was born in Winnebago, Minnesota where his grandfather helped to build the oldest community church in the state. When he was 5 years old, his mother passed away. He then moved to Wellman, Iowa to live with his aunt spending most of his childhood years there. Bob enjoyed church activities and became an Eagle Scout. He spent his summers working as a canoe guide on the boundary waters of Minnesota and Canada. Bob graduated from Wesleyan College located in Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1955.
He married Sara Ann Welch on June 3rd, 1956 in Ottumwa, Iowa. In September 1956 he started graduate school in Boston. He received a Master of Divinity Degree from Boston University School of Theology in 1958. Martin Luther King received his Ph.D. in 1955 from Boston University and Bob had the honor to spend an afternoon with The Rev. King, a memory he forever cherished. His time in Boston set him on the path of community outreach and service for the rest of his life.
In 1958, Bob moved from Boston, Massachusetts to his first church in Vale, Oregon. He served churches in Idaho and eastern Oregon before moving to Portland in 1972. He was the pastor of Sunnyside United Methodist Church, and for four years served as an Associate Minister at Portland First United Methodist Church. From 1982 -1995 he was Director of Alcohol and Drug prevention education and recovery ministers throughout the state of Oregon under the sponsorship of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and other agencies.
Bob organized the Portland Habitat for Humanity Project, the first project on the west coast to actually build houses. During the years of 1981 – 1982, two houses and a vacant lot were donated, and the organization built their first homes there. Millard Fuller came from Georgia and said “It is time to take the hammer and swing it”.
After retirement in 1995, Bob authored three books: (1) Valiant for Truth: Clarence True Wilson and Prohibition published in 2000; (2) Clarence Darrow’s Unlikely Friends published in 2007; (3) Big Guy and Mr. God: Questions to ponder published 2017. He also traveled to Thailand, the Philippines, and England.
He is survived by daughter Roseanne McNeil, son Kevin McNeil and son and daughter-in-law Merrill and & Laura McNeil. Two granddaughters, Chelsea McNeil and Shelby Sanchez and her husband Johnson Sanchez. Three granddaughters, Neveah and Layla McNeil and Aaliyah Sanchez. His brother-in-law Fred Welch and sister-in-law Vivian Welch. Two nieces, Denise Longley and Dariene Welch, and nephew Kent Welch. Cousins Dannay Kohler, Shirley Mills, and Roger Allen.
Final Resting Place: Rose City Cemetery 5625 NE Fremont St. Portland, OR 97213 next to his loving wife Sara Ann (Welch) McNeil
Bob was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He professionally served his community for many years and continued to show love and compassion to everyone.
He will be missed but is forever in our hearts.