Passed away peacefully on Sunday, 29 July, 2018 at the age of 92. Beloved husband of the late Ann B. McNeer (nee Bishop) for 67 years. Dear Father of Charles W. (Kay), the late Suzanne (Jim), Robert (Pia) and Thomas (Karen) McNeer. Proud grandfather of 6 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Further survived by nieces, nephews, and other relatives.
Charlie was and will continue to be a good soul. Charlie was quiet, but highly intelligent, known for his dry sense of humor and no nonsense approach for solving problems. The engineer in him always drove him to simply fix, solve or help in the best way he could for his family, business, and his community. “If it’s wrong, make it right, but be sure you leave a place/situation better than you found it”.
Born in Gilbert, West Virginia in 1926, the youngest son of Richard and Bertie McNeer. His folks worked hard to keep Mason, James and Charles out of the coal mines, yet instill strong values, and provide their family with opportunities to learn and achieve. Moving to Charleston, and later Williamson, Charlie graduated from Williamson High in 1943. At 17, he volunteered for the service and was sent to the Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point receiving a degree in Marine Engineering and serving on Troop Transports during the Battle of the North Atlantic in WWII. Later the Navy transferred him to submarine service in the Pacific until 1947. He remained in the Naval Reserves until 1959.
After the service, he attended Berea College in Kentucky majoring in physics. Here he met Ann Bishop who later became his wife and companion for life. Working his way through school, in Maintenance, they met when he was sent to her dormitory to change a light bulb. To think that it started with a burnt-out light bulb. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Charlie and Ann were married in ’49, and moved to Chicago, where he finished his studies at Northwestern University with a degree in electrical engineering. An offer of work for Wisconsin Electric as a junior engineer, and a cheap bus fare, brought the family of 3 to Milwaukee, where they lived for 68 years. In Milwaukee, they raised 4 children- though one left them tragically too young, leaving a hole that couldn’t be filled. But they endured, and found a renewed commitment to family and community. Fond memories of family car vacations camping in places such as the Great Smokey Mountains, Rocky Mountains, Devils Tower, the Seattle World Fair, and annual trips to Elizabethton, Johnson City Tennessee, and Bristol Virginia to visit grandparents.
Charlie’s career at Wisconsin Electric led to 41 years of service, starting as a junior engineer and retiring as CEO/Chairman. He was known for his strategic vision providing the guidance centered on “Conservation, Communication, and Community Development.” His strong conviction was summed up in a ‘91 Milwaukee Journal Article: “A business person first of all has to make a business successful, then, in order to maintain your success, you have a social responsibility ….you have to do well, ,,then you do good.”
He lived his vision with his involvement in the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Forward Wisconsin, I-94 connection, Milwaukee United Way Campaign (Chairman ’88), YMCA inner-city mentoring programs (he started), Bradley Center Foundation, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (6 years, Chairman’ 91), Department of Interior’s Industry Advisory Committee (Defense Electric Power Administration), Milwaukee Zoo (Fund raising), and even selling peanuts for the Kiwanis Club (sorry,,,McNeer humor), among many others.
We will miss him deeply: his smile, his quiet wit, his profound generosity, his dry sense of humor and his forward thinking. But we will continue our lives in memory of his values, love of family, business/ community. It is our profound hope that we can continue such values/ commitments and pay it forward for our family’s future generations.
We would be remiss if we didn’t express our profound gratitude to all the Staff and Management at Cecelia’s Place in Pewaukee. Their dedication, compassion, expertise and friendliness for the last five years were above and beyond. They took the risk of accepting Charlie when other Assisted Living Homes wouldn’t. Many, many “Thanks”.
Visitation will be held at the Funeral Home on Wednesday 5 September, from 2 pm until the time of the service at 4 pm. A dinner reception will follow. Memorials are appreciated to Cecelia’s Place or the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.
YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee
161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee WI 53203
Cecelia's Place Senior Living
1061 Cecilia Dr., Pewaukee WI 53072