Funeral services for Margaret Jane Riek Neely, 94, of Greenville will be at 11:00 a.m., Friday, December 21 at the First Baptist Church in Greenville. She passed away in Greenville on Tuesday, December 18. She will be laid to rest at Glenwood Cemetery in Yazoo City, with her beloved husband.
Margaret was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 7, 1924 to Dewey Stovall Riek and Clyde Mitchell Riek. She spent her childhood and early adult years in Tampa, Florida, where she developed a lifelong love for the warmth and welcome of the seashore. She attended two years of business school and became a secretary during the war effort, working at Hillsborough Army Air Field, on the outskirts of her home of Tampa. It was at Hillsborough that Margaret met the love of her life. Grey Leland Neely Sr., a hot shot young fighter pilot, had just returned from combat in Europe to train rookie aviators how to fly the P-51 Mustang into war. After a whirlwind romance, the two were married on September 3, 1945, at the Drew Field Chapel in Florida. Over the following years, they raised three children and transferred between multiple duty stations across the Southeast. After leaving active duty for the Air Force Reserve, Margaret and Grey settled in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and started Neely Brothers Construction. From there, they traveled the west from Louisiana to New Mexico, through the desert and mountains, installing power lines for communities without access to electricity.
Margaret was an adventurous spirit and lived a life full of thrills and exploration. She loved seeing the world and traveled frequently with her husband of 40 years, then on her own after he passed. In her travels, she flew over the glaciers of Alaska in a helicopter, rode on the back of an elephant in Africa, climbed the Great Wall of China, engaged in an Australian Aboriginal fertility ritual, and was kidnapped by a rickshaw driver in Taiwan. Margaret fulfilled her and her husband’s dream of returning to a seaside lifestyle in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. She continued her education throughout her sixties and seventies at the University of West Florida, sharpening her mind in college courses each semester. She spent her latest years back in the Delta, where she passed on a legacy of adventure and enthusiasm for life to her loving family.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Grey Leland Neely, Sr.; her daughter, Melanie Kay Neely Whitten; her brother, Dewey Riek; and her parents, Dewey and Clyde Riek. She is survived by her daughter, Terryll Neely Nordan (Edwin); her son, Grey Leland Neely Jr. (Nancy); her sister, Virginia Riek Rounds; her grandchildren: Edwin Walker Nordan, Jr., Leland Wince Nordan, Rose Marie Neely Bennett, Charles Whitten III, and Cooper Grey Nordan; and nine great-grandchildren.
There will be a visitation from 10:00-11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church in the Chapel. The services will be officiated by Dr. James Nichols. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you please consider donating to First Baptist Church or to No Greater Sacrifice, an organization dedicated to the education of the children of our nation’s fallen and wounded Service members.