Don Philip McNeely, was born to the late Eddie and Mary Stitt McNeely of Monroe, NC. He was educated in the Monroe City Schools, graduating from Winchester Avenue High School with Honors, and then attending and graduating from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. Don was an avid basketball player while in high school and greatly enjoyed watching all sports on television, especially the Carolina Panthers (#KeepPounding).
Don Philip (called Don by friends, Philip by his family, and a third name, Sonny, given to him by his mom) was extremely intelligent and gifted individual. After graduating from Morehouse College, Don worked locally for a while but bitten by the travel bug, he joined the United States Air Force and served faithfully for two years. He then traveled all over the United States, living in Texas and California before returning to Monroe where he ultimately worked for the State of North Carolina in the Department of Corrections for twenty-eight years until retirement. While serving in the Air Force, Don Philip learned the game of chess and became an ardent player. He taught his siblings (the four currently at home) how to play the game and later also imparted his love of playing chess to his children and anyone who wanted to learn.
Don Philip loved anything that challenged his intellect. As a child and later as a young high school student, he was encouraged by his mother to memorize and deliver speeches for various programs. One of his favorite poems, which he would recite upon request, was The Jabberwocky; Invictus was another favorite. He also loved the challenge of reading difficult books, such as Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Don loved watching movies (such as Star Wars, Forest Gump, and many others) with his kids on the “big screen” television at home.
He spent his latter years at the Accordius Health Rest Home in Monroe. He still remained an active and vital member of his family and the community. Family members recall fondly hearing him say, (particularly after a great game of Bingo at the nursing home), when asked if he enjoyed himself, “Great day, yes!”
Don was fortunate enough to find and on a pleasant memorable day in September 1996, married the love of his life, the former Jessie Carolyn Bell of Monroe, NC. Since that joyous occasion, they enjoyed a loving relationship for twenty-three years of which she oversaw and tenderly managed his personal and medical care for more than ten years until his final departure from this life. Don Philip leaves special memories to his wife, Jessie; three cherished children from a previous marriage, Donnie, Fredrick, and Europe Alia; two grand-children, Chance and Trinity; one lovely sister-in-law, Winnie (Nelson) of Morven, NC, one brother Mister Secrest of Madison, NC; two sister-in-laws, Joan Foster (Waldorf, MD) and Geraldine Perry (Milwaukee, WI) and more than seventy-five nieces, nephews, great and great-great nieces and nephews. Lastly he was preceded in death by ten siblings: Eddie, Ernestine, Dollie, Tommy, Joe Louis, Australia, Willie James, Henry Harvey, Shelia, and Cornelius.
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