Hector Thomas “Bud” Neal Jr., passed away at his home while surrounded by his loving family on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021. Visitation will be 1-2pm Friday, Feb. 5th at the Alden-Harrington Funeral Home followed by a Graveside Funeral Service at 2:30pm in the Edwardsville Cemetery. The family suggests, in lieu of flowers, please donate to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas.
Bud was born on June 22nd, 1927 in the French Bottoms area of St. Joseph, Missouri. He was preceded in death by his mother Katherine Alice (Kienzel) Neal and father Hector Thomas Neal Sr. He was also preceded in death by his younger brothers Clarence Neal and Robert “Buster” Neal. Survivors include his loving wife Ruth (Elliott) Neal and his five children: Billie Gilson (Richard), Paul Neal (Melinda Lee), Nancy Powell (George), Cindy Neal-Keltner (Scott) and Geraldine Sestric (Zdravko). As well as 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
Before proposing to his wife, Bud sold a cow to buy her engagement ring, and last year, Bud and Ruthie celebrated 72 years of marriage. Bud apprenticed with Bill Hall as a farmhand and started farming with a team of horses and finished his career as a farmer with a John Deere Model A Tractor. When he was farming, he was also able to spot arrowheads and other Native American artifacts while plowing the fields. He had a wide and varied collection which he enjoyed researching and reading about. After farming, Bud went to work as a Maintenance Man for the Unified School District #204 of Bonner Springs & Edwardsville. He was also a volunteer firefighter for the Delaware Township Fire Department. During the Kansas Centennial Celebration in 1961, Bud was the Fire Chief and rode in the celebratory parade. Bud was a skilled carpenter as well; he was proud to have built the house that he lived in for 61 years. He also helped build the Edwardsville United Methodist Church.
After Bud retired from the school district he became involved with the Gasoline Engine Association. He liked rebuilding Maytag gasoline engines and other stationary engines. Bud also enjoyed having livestock around his seven acres. When his younger daughter wanted a pony, he bought her a mule instead and named him “Tinker’s Dam!”, but his grandchildren thought Tinker was named after Tinkerbell. After Tinker went over the hill, Bud purchased a mother-daughter duo named Jenny and Susie. Later on, he acquired two donkeys named Mike and Ike. Bud liked to hunt and fish and he never met a stranger, he would talk to anyone about anything. On a trip to Iowa to see the Madison County Covered Bridges, he was dressed in his standard uniform of bib overalls and a brown cowboy hat and was looking over the cornfields surrounding the bridges when a group of French tourists drove up and started talking to him about farming and cornfields. He told them that he had been a farmer all his life and they all posed with him for pictures so they could prove back in France that they had met a “real Iowa corn farmer”.