Beverly JoAnne (Adair) McNeely
Beverly JoAnne (Adair) McNeely, or “JoAnne” to all who knew and loved her, age 89, of Newark, DE, died peacefully on Monday, June 19, 2023, at Millcroft Healthcare in Newark, DE.
JoAnne was an active woman for as long as her body and mind allowed it, whether it was singing in the choir, expressing her creativity through cooking and sewing, or just following her innate intellectual curiosity. All of those things developed over a lifetime lived in many places. Moving so often motivated her to be inquisitive and to immerse herself into a variety of activities and experiences.
Born in Pittsburg, KS, in 1934, JoAnne was the daughter of LaVon Lee (Wilson) Adair and Frank Milton Adair. Her father’s career with Western Electric moved the family from Manhattan, KS, to Berwyn, IL, St. Paul, MN, and finally to Indianapolis; JoAnne graduated from Shortridge High School there in 1951. Although raised as a “city girl”, JoAnne spent summers on her Adair grandparents’ farm in Frontenac, KS, cooking with her grandmother, fishing, riding horses, and spending time with her extended family.
JoAnne attended Purdue University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics in 1955; she was active in the Sigma Kappa sorority, the Exponent staff, Wesley Foundation, and the Choraleers. At a fraternity dance party in the spring of 1954, she met Jim McNeely. Dancing led to a walk home, and to a conversation that never ended; they were married in September of 1955. As newlyweds, the couple moved frequently for Jim’s career as a chemical engineer. There were stops in Cambridge, MA, Alabama and to New Jersey (where they started their family), Dayton, OH, St. Charles, MO, Cupertino, CA, and Madison, NJ before they reached Newark, DE, in 1983, where they settled and stayed for 40 years.
While raising her children, JoAnne devoted her time and talents to their schools and activities. She put her creativity and seamstress skills to work on countless costumes for Halloween, dance performances, and parades, as well as beautiful clothing for her children. She put her organizational and people skills on display as room mother, Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout den mother and president of the PTA.
Regardless of where she was living, JoAnne was always active in numerous community organizations. In 1969, she was recognized as “Outstanding Young Woman” of St. Charles County by the Jaycees in part for her work as United Fund Chairman for the county. During her time in Newark, she held officer positions in the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the University of Delaware Women’s Club. She particularly enjoyed the AAUW Antique Studies Group and the Gourmet Club, through which she and Jim developed cherished friendships as they cooked and dined together monthly for over 35 years. Also active in the International Association of Torch Clubs, both in Delaware and North Carolina, JoAnne served in 2017 as a delegate to the National Convention.
JoAnne’s working career ran the gamut; she was a home service rep for the Cambridge Gas Co., a junior high school teacher, a weekly columnist for the Cupertino Courier newspaper, head of housewares at the B. Altman & Co. department store in Short Hills, NJ, and a consultant at Bath, Kitchen & Tile in Wilmington, DE.
JoAnne grew up in the Methodist Church but joined the Presbyterian church after marriage. She expressed her deep Christian faith not only in her regular church attendance, but also by singing in the choir, serving as a deacon, teaching Sunday School, running the church nursery, leading the high school youth and Mariners groups with her husband, and participating in Bible studies, classes, and Women’s Circle.
Music, art, literature, and history all were important to JoAnne. She sang in choirs all her life, occasionally performing a solo or a duet with Jim. As a girl, JoAnne took art classes at the Art Institute of Chicago; as an adult, it was welding sculpture classes in California. She loved to read, especially history or a good mystery. JoAnne and Jim shared those passions with their children, bringing them to countless concerts and musicals, plays, art museums and historical sites.
Family genealogy was another of JoAnne’s hobbies. She and her daughters took several trips to research their Midwest roots and early colonial roots in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. During Covid, JoAnne spent hours writing family stories and memories, despite the painful arthritis in her hands.
JoAnne loved traveling. National Parks were favorite family destinations: Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Glacier, and Banff were among many memorable family trips (although JoAnne had mixed emotions about riding a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon). Later, JoAnne and Jim’s adventures included Hawaii, Alaska, England, France, the Netherlands, Singapore, Cambodia, and Hong Kong. One of her favorite places on earth, however, was the mountains of North Carolina; she and Jim loved nothing more than time spent at their vacation home of over 20 years, Blissful Vista, in Blowing Rock.
In addition to her parents, JoAnne was predeceased by her brother, Robert Oren Adair in 2015. She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Jim; children, Elizabeth Snoeyink (Jack) of Chapel Hill, NC, Margaret Kuras (Steve) of Mooresville, NC, and David McNeely (Sabra Kurth) of Havre de Grace, MD; grandchildren, Sarah VanFosson (Alex) of Johnson City, TN, William Snoeyink of Chapel Hill, NC, Greg Kuras (Whitney) of Raleigh, NC, Michael Kuras of Charlotte, NC, Katy McMurray (Zach) of Baltimore, MD, and Rosie McNeely (Matt Lewis) of Easton, MD; and great-grandchildren, Jacob and Eleanor VanFosson.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 10 am until 11 am on Saturday, August 12, 2023, at First Presbyterian Church of Newark, 292 W. Main Street, Newark, DE 19711, where a memorial service will begin at 11 am. Interment will be held privately in Blowing Rock, NC at a later date. Any family or friends who are unable to attend the memorial service for JoAnne may livestream the service on the First Presbyterian Church Newark DE YouTube Channel by clicking here.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in JoAnne’s memory to First Presbyterian Church of Newark – Music Fund at the address listed above.