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Jerrie Leonia Neely passed away on Saturday, September 30, 2023. Born in Geneva County Alabama on January 27, 1942, to parents Edgar B. Whitehead, and Eva Mae Marlow, Jerrie grew up in the South with sisters Naomi, Wyonia, and Wanda. She graduated from Central High School in Phenix City and went on to college at Troy State. She married William Huel Neely, Jr on May 5, 1962. They raised their family in St. Louis, Missouri before returning down south and calling Destin, Florida home.
Jerrie started as a secretary at May Company and was promoted to Director of Corporate Services, where she began a career in facilities management. She always said, “This is my one gift. I can look at a space and tell you exactly how many people can fit in there.” Anyone who knows her will tell you she never met a stranger. This, and her “one gift”, led to a prosperous transition into sales, and eventually the start of her own company, Neely & Associates. Jerrie especially loved working with the military and spent much of her career in Commercial Facility Design and Install for the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard. She was a member of Vision Church in Ft Walton Beach, belonged to the American Business Women’s Association, and served as a volunteer for the March of Dimes.
Jerrie enjoyed a fulfilling career, but she would tell you her greatest accomplishment, and one true passion was her family. Having just celebrated 61 years of marriage, she will always be remembered as a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her home was the gathering place for family Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and July 4th celebrations, which created many treasured memories. Jerrie enjoyed hanging out with the great-grandchildren at the zoo, the bouncy house, or park. She was able to take the trip of a lifetime to Europe where she enjoyed the Sistine Chapel, and a romantic gondola ride through the City of Venice with her husband. Each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were blessed with hand-sewn nursery comforters, drapes, monogrammed pillows, and crocheted blankets. When a blanket was loved beyond repair, Jerrie was already busy making a replacement. She never missed an opportunity to spend time with her loved ones and her husband will always hold dear the family they shared. He says, “She joined me on a wonderful journey.”
Jerrie never met a stranger. She was generous and loving toward all and was eager to go the extra mile for family, friends, and neighbors. Extending well beyond her immediate family, Jerrie’s memory lives on in many homes in the area as she crocheted “Baby of Destiny” blankets for baby dedications at Destiny Worship Center and at Vision Church Ft. Walton Beach. She was the “baby whisperer” at Vision Church, always available in the cry room to rock, snuggle, and sing to the precious little ones.
Jerrie is preceded in death by a grandson, Zak Wilders and by her parents, Edgar B. and Eva Mae Whitehead. She is survived by her beloved husband, William Huel Neely, Jr., her children, Karen Neely, Steven Neely and his wife Mary, Michelle Wilders and her husband Rick, grandchildren, Laci Maraman, Lindsay Cunningham, Amanda Cheeley, Joshua Cawiezell, Jake Wilders, Caleb Neely, Taylor Cawiezell, and Melani Davis, sisters, Naomi Braegger, Wyonia Farner and Wanda Tumlin, and 23 great-grandchildren.
All who knew her would agree that Jerrie was a special lady. She was a blessing to her family, friends, and community. Jerrie loved well and is well loved. Her strength, caring smile, warm hugs, and sage advice will be missed. The love she poured out will not be forgotten. The life she lived will continue to be an inspiration for her family, and an ideal to be lived up to.
Donations made to Vision Church Ft Walton Beach will be forwarded to the Africa Children’s Mission in Jerrie’s name. Flowers are also being accepted.
The family will receive visitors at Destiny Worship Center in Freeport, FL on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, from 1:00-2:00pm. A funeral service will begin at 2:00pm with graveside following at Magnolia Cemetery in DeFuniak Springs.