In Memory: June 2

Jeff Neely, 73, Vero Beach

Jeff Neely, 73, passed away peacefully with Joanna, his wife of 47 years, by his side at the VNA Hospice House in Vero Beach, on May 29, 2020, from complications of Multiple Myeloma. Jeff was born on April 6, 1947, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

While born to the cold and wet of Northern Ireland, Jeff spent his entire childhood in the sun and warmth of Southern Africa, living in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Jeff was a graduate of St. Francis College in Kitwe, Zambia and Thornhill College in Gwelo, Zimbabwe where he served as Prefect and a stand out Lock on the Rugby team.

Upon matriculating, Jeff entered the world of high finance and intrigue with an entry-level role with Barclays bank providing mobile banking services in rural locales in South Africa. While this description may allude to his altruistic side, his principle reason for accepting the role was that the hours suited his surfing schedule. His career in banking was short lived.

Jeff then accepted a position in a Junior trainee program with Johnson & Johnson in East London, South Africa in 1966. Jeff worked his way up, eventually serving in a number of senior management roles for the company in England, Canada, Wales and finally at headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, retiring from the company in 1993.

Over the following 20 years, Jeff built and managed a successful consulting firm, allowing him to continue to pursue his career goals engaging with many major healthcare companies.

In 2013, Jeff decided to finally step away from active work in the Northeast US. and soon thereafter moved to Vero Beach, a return to the sun, warmth and beach lifestyle, so reminiscent of his childhood years.

Jeff’s many passions included golf, photography, rugby, fishing and surfing. Through these activities, Jeff forged many enduring friendships.

While his recent battle with cancer often made it difficult for him to participate in many of the activities he enjoyed, watching South Africa win the 2019 Rugby world cup brought him immense pleasure.

Jeff met his wife Joanna in 1973 in Cape Town, South Africa. A whirlwind romance, resulted in a move to England and a wedding shortly thereafter. Over the following five years, three young Neelys arrived, and three more international moves took place (Canada, Wales and the United States).

Jeff’s experience as a dedicated father to three trained him well for his later role as an engaged and entertaining grandfather of four, a role he cherished.

Jeff will be remembered by those who knew and loved him as a generous, kind, fun loving, forgiving and larger than life soul. He will be remembered for his passion for the sea, his love of all things Africa and his total dedication to being a loving partner, father and grandfather. He will be missed.

Jeff is survived by his wife, Joanna; daughter, Claire (Graham); son, Ryan (Sarah); daughter, Emma; and his grandchildren, Sam, Millie, Jace and Wynne.

Jeff was predeceased by his parents, Samuel and Edith.

A celebration of life will held at a later date when travel and gathering restrictions permit.

In lieu of flowers, please consider the important services provided by the VNA & Hospice Foundation. Donations can be made to online at or by mail to VNA & Hospice Foundation, 1110 35th Lane, Vero Beach, FL 32960.

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