John R. McNeilly, age 75, of Nebraska City passed away on Monday, May 27, 2019 at Nebraska City Care & Rehab.
John Richard McNeilly was born April 21, 1944 in Omaha, Nebraska and spent his childhood in Shenandoah, IA. John was the son of Maurice McNeilly and Wilma Cisney (Billie Oakley), and had two sisters, Donna Roberts (Ron Roberts) and Marcia Anderson (Edward Anderson). His lifelong love for nature and learning started early in childhood.
Proud to serve his country during the Vietnam Conflict, John enlisted in the Air Force in 1964 and was stationed at Yokota AFB in Japan. Upon his Honorable Discharge in 1970, John continued classes at the University of Nebraska at Omaha focusing in Biology. John’s love of science and discovery lead him to a Botany course where he met his greatest love, Diana Krogstrand. They were married in Omaha on January 24th, 1970 and remained there until hearing of a high school position in Nebraska City. They instantly fell in love with the beauty of the town and moved there in 1978. John and Diana were blessed with their daughters Sara (Bean) in 1976 and Allison (Sony) in 1980.
In his constant quest for new knowledge, John obtained multiple degrees including: B.S. Biology & General Science (UNO ‘71), M.S. Secondary Ed/Science Ed (UNO ‘75), Post Graduate work: UNL, Creighton Univ., U of Iowa, U of Arizona. Due to his wide interests, John received professional certifications in General Science, Biological Science, Chemistry, and Physics. He extensively studied religion, philosophy and taught Sunday School at First Evangelical Lutheran Church. His lifelong interests included fishing, reading and sharing his extensive love and knowledge of nature with his family and community.
An outstanding educator, John worked tirelessly for his students. He started his teaching career at Nathan Hale Junior High in Omaha for seven years, then taught Biology, Chemistry and Physics at Nebraska City High School for 27 years. After retirement, he taught at colleges and was a substitute teacher. He was part of many science and teaching organizations, wrote curriculum and was a leader of Science Clubs as well as many science fairs. John believed deeply that not all students learned the same. He went above and beyond to ensure that all students had the opportunity to learn and grow. John’s work with the NCHS Science Club helped to foster the growth of tree planting and recycling efforts in the Nebraska City. John was recognized multiple times, receiving awards including the Nebraska City Jaycees Outstanding Educator, Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher Award from the American Chemical Society, and others. He was invited to Bell Labs, NJ to work on early microtechnologies with other scientists including a group of Nobel Laureates.
He was a loving son, brother, veteran, husband, father, uncle, teacher and scientist, grandparent, community leader, and a friend and mentor to many. He is survived by his wife of 50 years Diana, children Sara McNeilly Ammon and fiancé Matt Blevins, Allison (McNeilly) Taubenberger and husband Rick Taubenberger, and grandchildren Alec Taubenberger, Jacob McNeilly & fiancé Hannah Frantsen, Aidan Taubenberger, Quinn Ammon, Melody Blevins, Liam Taubenberger, Daniel Blevins and Miles Blevins.
Even after diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, in his own words he stated, "Don't you be sad for me, I've had a really good life. Really, really good."