Bill Neal, rancher, retired country lawyer, historian, journalist, and author, age 85, passed away on Thursday, December 23, 2021 in Abilene, Texas. Bill Neal was born in Quanah, Texas on January 31, 1936, to William Overton (Boots) Neal III and Katharine Barnes Neal.
Services for Bill will be Thursday, December 30, 2021 in Quanah, Texas. Visitation with the family will be held at Three Rivers Foundation Foyer, from 12:30 to 1:30, followed by a 2:00 graveside service at the Quanah Memorial Park cemetery. Dustin Hamby, minister of Cornerstone Church, will officiate. Services are under the direction of the Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene, Texas 79606.
Bill graduated from Quanah High School in 1953, and Hardin-Simmons University in 1958, where he majored in economics and was editor of the college newspaper. His knack for pranks kept the Hardin-Simmons faculty on their toes, and that is probably an understatement. After serving as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, he worked as a reporter, first for the Abilene Reporter-News and then for the Amarillo Globe-News. In 1961, he enrolled in the University of Texas Law School, after talking the admissions office into letting him start classes without taking the proper test. He later took the LSAT and did well enough to be allowed to stay. He proudly graduated first in his class in 1964 and was also named Grand Chancellor. Bill was Comment Editor of the Texas Law Review. In 1964-65, he served as a briefing attorney for Justice Ruel Walker of the Texas Supreme Court and then returned to Quanah to practice law.
In 1968 he was elected as District Attorney for the 46th Judicial District of Texas which includes Wilbarger, Hardeman and Foard Counties. Retiring from that office in 1976, after serving two terms, he opened a private law office as a general practitioner with an emphasis on criminal defense work. In 1992, he was elected District Attorney again, this time for the 50th Judicial District composed of Baylor, Knox, Cottle and King Counties where he served three terms. Bill was considered one of the very best trial attorneys in northwest Texas before retiring in 2004.
The forever storyteller wrote several books covering colorful stories of the history of law and lawlessness of the West Texas frontier, many of which grew from his time spent researching old records in the basements of courthouses.
Bill enjoyed his days in his home in Abilene with his beloved wife Gayla, where he could be found with his loyal dog not far from his feet while either working on stories or visiting with his children, loved ones and friends. He often spent time at his ranch, his favorite place to be, which he also called home, south of Quanah, near the Medicine Mounds where he grew up.
We all asked him at some point in time, what are you looking at, as he looked off into the horizon, in the way only he could. "The land." He would simply say. Now we will continue to remember him and the love he had for "the land" as we too take time to appreciate the horizon and care for the land as he always has.
Bill Neal is survived by his wife, Gayla Neal of Abilene, two sons, Monte Mark Neal (Lenore) of Austin, Max McCaleb Neal, of Austin, one daughter Virginia Kay Neal Covarrubia (David) of Austin, two step-daughters Nicole Todd (Charles) of Fate, Texas, Joy Chhay (Alex) of Leander, Texas, and one step-grandson, Magnus Chhay of Leander.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to the Hardman County Historical Museum, 105 Green Street, Quanah, Texas 79252 or Downtown Medicine Mound Museum, 292 Spur 91 South, Medicine Mound, Texas 79252.
Bill loved reading and collecting quotes, and included below are two of the many he admired.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler." – Albert Einstein
"Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once." – Margaret Mitchell
Memories may be shared, and condolences submitted online at www.HamilFamilyFuneralHome.com