James Donnell McNeer, 83, of Cleveland passed away Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at home surrounded by family. Visitation will be Monday, September 26th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. and Tuesday, September 27th from 10:00-11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Cleveland. A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 am followed by burial in the North Cleveland Cemetery.
Mr. McNeer was born on August 23, 1939, in Cleveland to Doty and Bessie McNeer. Donnell attended Boyle School. He married Gloria Sims McNeer on June 21, 1958. Mr. McNeer was preceded in death by his parents and siblings Buddy McNeer, Susie Sumrall, Lester McNeer, and Willie Gale McNeer.
From a young age, Donnell was a self-reliant, independent, and hardworking man. As a young man he worked at the Keen Freeze and Denton’s Dairy before becoming an entrepreneur and owning multiple businesses. His first business was McNeer Upholstery where he upholstered household furniture as well as refinished and restored wood furniture. He and his wife, Gloria, owned several other businesses throughout their life together. In the early 70’s they sold Triumph Motorcycles. From there, he founded and owned McNeer Lighting and McNeer Mini Storage in Cleveland, and McNeer Portable Buildings in Greenville, MS.
Donnell had a passion for revitalizing old things, and he always had a project in the works. Donnell always wanted to leave things better than he found them. He loved the adventure of finding antique treasures, working with wood and collecting Coca-Cola and other soda memorabilia. One of his greatest projects from conception to completion was the design and construction of the family home. He also enjoyed being on his equipment and working with dirt. Donnell loved traveling with Gloria over the years always in search of a treasure.
Donnell was a member of First Baptist Church. He was also a retired member of the Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department where he served from 1963-1982. While serving, he received the Chief’s Award for 1980-1981 and held several officer positions. After retirement, the department recognized Donnell with a Service Award for his continued contributions to the department through various service projects.
Most people, who knew Donnell, knew he was a man of few words. He was always soft spoken, humble and willing to help others without recognition.
Mr. McNeer is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Gloria Sims McNeer of Cleveland; children: Mike (Connie) McNeer of Lumberton, TX, Melissa (Tim) Thompson of Cleveland, MS and Ron (Tracie) McNeer of Cleveland, MS; grandchildren: Blake (Megan) McNeer of Houston, TX, Lance (Ashley) McNeer of Lumberton, TX, Julian (Shelby) Rocconi of Cleveland, MS, Kelly McNeer of San Jose, CA, Mitchell (Allysa) McNeer of Cleveland, MS, Parker (Hannah Claire) McNeer of Cleveland, MS, Hunter Thompson of Columbia, MO, John Douglas Estes of Knoxville, TN; Great-Grandchildren: Lilly McNeer, Olivar Shenton, Adeline Shenton and Nash McNeer of Lumberton, TX, Mabry McNeer, Audrey Rocconi, Marley McNeer of Cleveland, MS, Rhett McNeer of Houston, TX. He is also survived by siblings Joy Hays, Chester McNeer, and Peggy Saunders and a host of nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers will be Brent Branning, John Douglas Estes, Todd Livingston, Mitchell McNeer, Parker McNeer, Julian Rocconi, Hunter Thompson, and Tim Thompson. Honorary pallbearers will be Active and Retired Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department members, Blake McNeer, Lance McNeer, Kelly McNeer, Johnny Arnold, and Shorty Jones.
The family would like to extend special thanks to Trasie White, Mary Carter, Erica Shannon, Ashley Sanders and Delta Health Systems for their loving care, dedication, and support during this time.
In lieu of flowers the family request donations to be made to First Baptist Church of Cleveland, Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department or the charity of your choice.