Walter Boone McNeely passed away, while surrounded by family and close friends, on the morning of Friday, the 2nd of October, 2020, at the family farm on Jones Ferry Road in Elberton, GA. He was 84.
Born at home in Marion, McDowell County, NC on the 27th of February, 1936, Walter was the youngest of six children. He is preceded in death by his parents, George Hampton McNeely and Hannah Boone McNeely. After graduating high school, Walter proudly served his country in the U.S. Army.
Following his military discharge, he moved to Elberton, GA and quickly made it home. Soon after relocating he met Shirley Joan Shell, who would become his wife and constant companion of fifty-three years. They were blessed with one child and Walter’s pride and joy, Elizabeth Boone McNeely.
Walter had many business endeavors; however, he is most remembered from Walter’s Store for Men on the Elberton Square during the 1970s. During the 1960s, he operated Berns-Martin Custom Made Leather Holsters and was recognized nationally for the holsters and leathercraft he produced. He also worked as a granite salesman, both at Coggins Granite Company and privately. Walter and his daughter Elizabeth are currently the owners and operators of Bodyplex and Pro Fitness Gyms.
He was a man of many talents who understood the importance of investing in community and the youth there. Walter was instrumental in the success of the former TAHO (Teenage Hangout) Club which occupied the present-day Elbert Theatre, and was honored to serve as Chaplin for the 1970-1971 Elbert County Football Team. He was a former member of the Elberton Rotary Club and also served on many committees and boards at state and local levels.
The McNeelys have been heavily involved with the Arabian Horse Association and related equestrian organizations for many years. They travelled nationwide while doing so, and were blessed to make many lifelong friends along the way. He will be remembered by many horse friends for tying the perfect tie knot and making sure everyone was dressed perfectly.
Walter was instrumental in ensuring Richard B. Russell State Park and Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course came to Elberton. He worked diligently to ensure the park’s success and was most proud of his accomplishment in establishing the park’s rowing facilities, which brought to Elberton international Olympic rowing teams and continues to attract rowers world-wide. As a result of his diligent work, Walter had the distinct honor of serving as bearer of the Olympic Torch during the 1996 Olympics as well as having the pavilion at the park named in his honor.
He was a dedicated member of First United Methodist Church of Elberton where he served as an Usher and a member of the Lumberjacks Men’s Group. He was active in the early days of MYF where he formed many lifetime bonds.
Survivors include his wife, Shirley Shell McNeely; his daughter and son-law, Elizabeth and Louis Tyler; honorary grandchildren: Emma, Anna, and Zachary Cooper of Norwell, Massachusetts, and friends too numerous to name.
A celebration of Walter’s life will be held on Tuesday, the 6th of October, 2020, at 11 o’clock at the McNeely Residence, 1356 Jones Ferry Road, Elberton. A private burial will precede the service in Historic Elmhurst Cemetery. In order to practice social distancing and for the well-being of all attending, you are encouraged to bring your own lawn chair.
Honorary pallbearers will include Martin Daniel, Tom Denny, Bob Lee, Chris Phelps, Joe Ray, and Nick Thompson.
Flowers are accepted and contributions may be made in Walter’s memory to First United Methodist Church of Elberton, 132 E. Church Street, Elberton, GA 30635 or to Friends Helping Friends, Inc., 1027 Micliff Drive, Elberton, GA 30635.
Those wishing may sign the online guestbook at www.berryfh.com.
Berry Funeral Home & Crematory of Elberton is respectfully in charge of arrangements for Walter Boone McNeely.
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