William Neil

William “Bill” Neil, age 85 of Northfield, passed away Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Reflections Care Suites in Northfield. Funeral Services will be 10:30 am Saturday, January 21st at the Northfield United Methodist Church with burial at Oaklawn Cemetery. Visitation will be 3-7:00 pm Friday, January 20th at the Northfield United Methodist Church and on Saturday 1 hour prior to Services at the Church.

William Thornton Neil was born on December 31, 1931 in Castle Rock Township to Fred and Ruth (Cleland) Neil. He grew up on his family’s farm, as the youngest of seven children. Bill attended country school, Randolph Elementary School, and graduated from Northfield High School in 1950. During high school, he was involved in FFA and worked at Enfield Motors.

He started hauling milk as a relief driver in 1950 and bought his own milk route on June 15, 1956. He continued his bulk milk route until 2006; enjoying the conversation with his customers and watching their families grow. Bill also farmed with his family in Dakota County, raising livestock and crops his entire life.

On May 1, 1956, Bill married Dorothy Lyman at the Northfield United Methodist Church. They lived in Greenvale Township before moving to their farm near Castle Rock in 1964. Together, they raised their children, David, Garry, Nancy Jane, and Steven. Dorothy passed away on November 28, 1985. He married Arlene Fossum on October 1, 2005 at Bethel Lutheran Church, Northfield.

Bill was very proud to be a member and adult leader in the Dakota County 4-H program, with his involvement spanning from age nine until he was 77. He started the Bright Stars 4-H Club, served as county Federation treasurer, and served as a beef project leader. As a young adult, he was involved in the Rural Youth Association and was awarded the State Outstanding Member award in 1955. Bill served on the Federal Land Bank Board of Directors, Dakota County Farm Bureau Board, and the Castle Rock Township Board of Supervisors. The Neil’s were recognized as the Dakota County Farm Family of the Year in 1993. Bill was a member of the Northfield United Methodist Church.

Throughout his life, Bill enjoyed finding the right piece of farm equipment by checking the Sunday paper want ads and going to auctions in his younger days and having Arlene check the internet after they were married. He purchased many tractors, all of them RED, but always had green trucks, including his 1949 Chevrolet pickup. Bill enjoyed coffee and good conversation at several locations, including The Quarterback Club, Castle Rock Mini-Mall, and Roehl’s. He liked playing cards, especially 500 with neighborhood friends and at the senior center. Bill followed the Northfield Raiders basketball teams closely and loved watching his grandchildren play for the Randolph Rockets. His trademark uniform was bib overalls, which he wore until his final days.

Bill’s focus was his family and always appreciated that his career allowed him to spend time with them, as he took his kids and most of his grandchildren on the milk route. He enjoyed working together on their diversified farm. Bill was a dependable babysitter and driver for his grandchildren over the years. His smile, caring attitude, and gentle teasing will be missed.

Bill is survived by his wife Arlene; daughter Nancy (Darin) Hegland of Northfield; sons David (Ann) Neil of Pine Island, Garry Neil of Northfield, Steven (Keely) Neil of Northfield; grandchildren Ruth (Tim) Greenslade, Elizabeth and Bradley Neil, Jeffrey (Carrie) Neil, A.J. (Cortney) Neil, Amelia (Ryan) Kappers, Ryan, Ella Jane, and Maria Hegland, Jackson and Hannah Neil; 6 great grandchildren; step children Julie (Dale) Walston, Kevin (Vicki) Fossum, and Craig (Sandra) Fossum; brother and sisters-in-law Gene (Betty) Berge, Marilyn (Glenn) Lueaders, and Judy Berge; 6 step grandchildren, 5 step great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife Dorothy; sisters Beth and Mary Neil; brothers Fred, Ralph, Paul, and John Neil; twin grandchildren Katherine and Daniel Hegland; and brother-in-law Kenneth Berge.

Memorials to Northfield Hospice or the Minnesota 4-H Foundation.

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