John Hugh McNeill, 76, of Raleigh, died on the morning of December 4, 2014 at Raleigh Duke Hospital. Hugh was born on October 7, 1938 in his grandparents’ house in Hoke County NC to Murphy McNair McNeill and Margaret Catherine (McPhaul) McNeill. He was married on August 20, 1960 in Red Springs NC to Margaret Anna (Peggy) Ratley.
Hugh is survived by his wife; his three sons and theirs wives, John Hugh McNeill Jr and Hillery McNeill of Atlanta, David Kelly McNeill and Angela McNeill of Raleigh, and Eric McNeill and Jennifer Boyce-McNeill of Seattle; and eight grandchildren, John Hugh McNeill III (Jack), Annie McNeill, Graham McNeill, Matthew McNeill, Murphy McNeill, Austin McNeill, Flora Boyce-McNeill and Durham Boyce-McNeill.
Hugh had a lifelong dedication to his family and to the Presbyterian Church, both probably coming from his strong Scots lineage in the Upper Cape Fear region of North Carolina. He was a man who could always be counted on to provide love, support and wisdom in every role that he played in his family’s life: son, husband, father, grandfather and uncle. He lost his own father when he was 15 and understood and appreciated keenly the role that the extended family played in supporting each other. In his retirement he undertook a massive multi-year project of researching and documenting the McNeill/Ratley family tree, ultimately cataloging thousands of stories, photographs, land plots and other documents into a comprehensive history. He left this treasure to his family so that their understanding of and connection to the family’s past would always be there for the future generations to come. Without Hugh this would have been lost forever.
Hugh’s devotion to the Presbyterian Church was one that lasted his entire life. He grew up in the Red Springs Presbyterian Church and during that time served on the Fayetteville Presbytery Youth Council. While attending NC State he became very active in campus ministry and was the Moderator of the Synod of North Carolina Westminster Fellowship. He remained engaged in campus ministry, serving the Raleigh-area campus ministry board for over 20 years, and also served on the Presbytery committee that oversees the program on campuses in Raleigh, UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, NC Central and East Carolina. Hugh was always proud of helping to contribute to the lives of many outstanding young people, some of whom went on to seminary and are serving pulpits across the Church today.
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In addition to Campus Ministries, Hugh was a long-time elder in churches of which he was a member, including Faith Presbyterian in Huntsville AL and St Giles Presbyterian in Raleigh. He also served the wider Church in many Presbytery assignments and as a commissioner to General Assembly. He particularly enjoyed advising churches’ pastor nominating committees.
Hugh graduated from Red Springs High School on May 26, 1956. He then attended NC State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and served in the ROTC. Closely after graduation in 1960 he joined the US Air Force and moved to Langley Air Force Base in Hampton VA with his new bride. Subsequently he volunteered for the newly formed Minuteman ballistic missile program and was transferred to Maelstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, where his assignment was as a launch officer at the bottom of a nuclear missile silo (during some tense moments such as the Cuban Missile Crisis). Ultimately he was transferred to Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach FL, where in 1965 he left the Air Force and started a 31 year career at IBM. The two great highlights of his time at IBM included being a part of the engineering team that built the Saturn Five rocket that put men on the moon and years later being the Engineering Program Manager for the IBM team that built one of the first hugely successful laptops, the IBM ThinkPad 701.
Upon retirement Hugh enjoyed many years with Peggy, his children and grandchildren. It included lots of ballgames, great travels (including three visits to the McNeill castle on the Isle of Barra, Scotland) and treasured weeks with his family on Oak Island, NC.
Hugh passed away peacefully from complications of esophageal cancer. He will be buried on December 7 at 3:00 at Alloway Cemetary in Red Springs. A memorial service will be held at St Giles Presbyterian in Raleigh at 2:00 on Monday December 8th. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to the Presbyterian Campus Ministry through the following link: www.pcmraleigh.org/donate-to-pcm-raleigh.html . Please click on the "donation" button and choose "student support fund-323375." In the note section at the bottom you can add "for the Hugh McNeill Memorial Fund." If you would prefer to use a check, please send it to Presbyterian Campus Ministry, 27 Horne St, Raleigh, NC 27607
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Crumpler Funeral Home of Red Springs.
Online condolences may be made at www.crumpler funeralhome.com