Our beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother, Wallace Wayne Neeley, passed away peacefully at his home on May 9, 2017 at the age of 82 following complications from a hip fracture.
Wally was born on June 16, 1934 in Clanton, Alabama, as the third child of James Randolph Neeley and Alvarada Wilkins Neeley. Following his graduation from Chilton County High School, he completed his studies from Howard College in Birmingham (now Samford University) in three years while working full time at an aircraft factory. Immediately after graduation, he entered flight school at Pensacola, Florida and became a Naval officer and an aviator.
While stationed on Oahu, Wally met the love of his life, Joyce Martino, when she accepted his offer to dance with him under the banyan tree at the Moana Hotel in Honolulu. They married on Jan. 7, 1962, at Travis AFB and moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Wally’s career took his family to various Naval bases across the country and back to Hawaii; their travels eventually led them back to California in the 1970s where they have lived ever since.
Following his retirement from the Navy, Wally fulfilled his lifelong dream of living in the country and pursuing his passion for rental properties. When not answering calls to fix a broken air conditioner or window, he delighted in farming activities, all with the help of his friend Salvador Gamez. He loved nothing more than sitting at the kitchen table eating Ritz crackers and peanut butter from the jar, and making everyone laugh with his wit and endearing comments on daily life.
Known to his grandchildren as “Wally Pop,” he loved to tease and tell tales of his childhood in Alabama. He also regaled them with stories of his exploits during his flying days. Whether it was watching gooney birds on Midway Island, making an emergency landing due to an engine failure, or navigating by the stars, Wally Pop always had a great story to tell.
Wally was one of the most loving, free-spirited, witty and extraordinary people his family ever knew, and they miss him so much already. In the words of granddaughter Kathleen, “My grandpa was so full of life, and I know that the life and love he shared with me and my family will only grow stronger with time as we forge our own lives.”
Wally is survived by his wife, Joyce Martino Neeley and their three daughters: Kelly (Chuck) Muenzen of Menlo Park, Jennifer (Robert) Bavetta of Davis and Amy Neeley and her good friend Todd Drake of Sacramento; six grandchildren: Steven Muenzen, Scott Bavetta, Kathleen Muenzen, Lindsey Bavetta, Elizabeth Muenzen and Jill Bavetta; brother Aubrey (Mary Ann) Neeley of Montgomery, Alabama; sister Shirley (the late George) Dangler of Tullahoma, Tennessee; brother-in-law and sisters-in-law Joseph and Loli Martino, Rowena (the late Patrick) Kennedy, and Cheryl Martino Smith; and many precious nieces and nephews.
Wally was predeceased by his brother James Edward (Mary) Neeley, and his sister Janice (James) Littleton.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, May 26, at 10 a.m. at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, immediately followed by a reception at St. Anthony Parish Hall in Winters.
Memorial Donations may be made to
the HeartRight Foundation, 2330 Glendale Ln, Sacramento, CA 95825 http://step
agency.com/consumer/heartright.html or a charity of one’s choice.