J. Gail Neely, MD
December 10, 1939 - August 20, 2017
Saint Louis, Missouri
John Gail Henry Neely, MD, FACS, named after all the males in his mother's very small family, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on August 20, 2017 at the age of 77 from progressive pulmonary fibrosis. His wife Susan, 6 children, 16 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren survive him.
He had an unquenchable curiosity and profound reverence for truth. He loved people and delighted in exciting others to maximize their talents toward excellence. This extended from young grade school children to advanced medical colleagues and postdoctoral trainees. He used his medical and surgical experience in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery as a stimulus for exploring the mechanisms of disease and the underlying pathophysiology of patient's symptoms. As he progressed through his medical education and practice, he took every opportunity to train and use scientific methods for problem solving.
In high school, he wrote a term paper on the biochemistry of the emotions with the help of Ethel Derrick, PhD at the University of Central Oklahoma. Between college and medical school, he studied neurophysiology at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL funded by National Science Foundation (NSF). In medical school at the University of Oklahoma, he participated in neuropharmacology research and spent a summer in Washington D.C. in the Commissioned Officer Student Trainee and Extern Program (COSTEP) in the neurological and sensory disease service program. Following his internship at the University of Oregon, he spent two years in the uniformed service USPHS-Division of Indian Health, where he was commanding officer and developed a funded program for the alcoholic. He then completed a residency in General Surgery-Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. Following his residency, he completed a fellowship with the House Ear Clinic and Institute in Los Angeles, CA.
He entered academic otolaryngology practice with a focus on ear and skull base surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. Later he served as chairperson of the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Oklahoma.
Thereafter, he took a year sabbatical at Yale University studying with Alvan Feinstein in clinical epidemiology. He then joined the faculty full time at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, to continue his surgical practice and NIH funded training grant to teach surgical-scientists.
For thirteen years, he suffered with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, ultimately requiring him to leave his practice but continuing to be happy and productive doing what he cared about the most, thinking and having an outlet for his thoughts. Previous resident surgeons delighted his day by calling and sharing complex cases.
Eventually he joined hospice to prepare his family and himself for his passing. This process enriched his closeness to Jesus Christ and ultimately God.
Every individual that cared that he had time on earth blessed him. It was a great trip. Thank you.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the University of Central Oklahoma, 100 N. University, Evans Hall Room 102 Edmond, OK 73034 or Concord Trinity UMC Living Memorials
5275 S. Lindbergh Blvd. Saint Louis, MO 63126.
August 23, 2017
04:00 pm - 07:00 pm
John L. Ziegenhein & Sons Funeral Homes - South County
4830 Lemay Ferry Road (63129)
August 24, 2017
11:00 am - 11:30 am
John L. Ziegenhein & Sons South County Chapel
4830 Lemay Ferry Road (63129)
Susan and Sally, I am so sorry to hear about the death of your loved one. May you be wrapped in Gods loving arms as you move through the grieving process. God bless you all. Peggy Provence Appleton -Peggy Provence Appleton Gail is a consummate scholar and mentor and will be sorely missed. Godspeed, my friend!-Joel GoebelSusan, I am so sorry to hear about Doc. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. Love you, Dawn and Larry-Dawn AllardYour in our thoughts and prayers for your great loss. May peace be upon you all.-Ginger BobalaWhile it is impossible for me to be there in person, all my thoughts and prayers will be there. This man was my solid ground and my Daddy. Along with his parents, his best friends Phil and Rex will be with him now. We will miss you Dad. I will pay my respects in Oklahoma in person. Great love and gratitude to Susan for being the greatest carer in the world. Much love and comfort to all who are grieving now. Forever in my heart, Your Lisa Pizza-Lisa Neely SzafranskiGail was always available for staffing difficult ear cases at the Houston VA. He conducted didactic teaching rounds with great clarity and insight, and could explain complex issues with precision. As I returned to BCM as faculty after fellowship he was an important mentor and trusted advisor. His move to OK was a profound loss to our program, but for those of us he trained he will always be held in the highest regard. We at BCM mourn his passing and sent deepest condolences to his family.-Robert Parke, M.D.I had the privilege to meet Dr. Neely in 2010 when I was diagnosed with a base skull tumor. It was the most frightened I had ever been and he was one of the most kind doctors. It was obvious he had the knowledge of my condition but he also had the heart to make me comfortable and secure. I will never forget him. God Bless him.-Cindy Rawls CherryThank you Gail! You are the best. You trained more than 30 STARS students in research methodology and report writing. Many of them are now practicing medicine because of their research experience with you.. -Kenneth R. MaresGail, I will miss having lunches with you at meetings and 'chewing the fat' about science and how to foster and support junior faculty aspiring to become surgeon-scientists. Your passion for teaching and your creativity were boundless. With much love, my friend. -Richard SmithSo sorry to hear about Gail's passing, please accept my sincerest condolences. Although we never worked together, I have known Gail very well from the many meetings we attended, and of course I was familiar with his works, and he was certainly familiar with mine. He delighted in asking questions and engaging in deep conversations about science and clinical issues. He did all this with good humor an infectious smile, and trademark anecdotes. He will be missed. -Paul R KilenySusan and family, I am sorry for your loss. Gail was a wonderful and kind man. I was impressed by his love and devotion to family and especially how he enjoyed his grandchildren. He will be missed God Bless Betty Street-betty j StreetGail was a facial nerve champion - cared deeply about the concrete academics of facial paralysis - great mentor - deeply sorry for the loss of such a great-Tessa HadlockMuch love hugs and prayers
Doc was fun . Blessings Lori and Randy
ND -Randy & Lori AbrahamsonTo Susan and Family,
I would like to send my condolences regarding the passing of Gail. I was very fortunate to have him as my teacher and mentor during my residency at OU. Even though I was sometimes intimidated by him, he was always there to support me and push me to be my best. I have experienced a wonderful career and I can attribute most of that to his guidance and teachings. We will all miss him and my prayers are with you and your family. Sincerely, David Simms -David SimmsDear Family of Dr. Neely,
Our condolences to your family as you honor your husband, father, and grandfather. We hope your family, friends and colleagues are a source of comfort during this time.
Family and Consumer Science Teacher
Parkway South High-Monica DickensAlthough I never had the chance to work with Gail, I was impressed with his infectious enthusiasm whenever we had the chance to discuss a clinical topic. His folksy style often shrouded his deep understanding and probing intellect, and I suspect that many colleagues underestimated him. But he did not seem to care much about that. Instead, he exuded all that was good, honest and sincere in medicine.
We have lost a gentle giant, and my heart goes out to all his family and friends.-John CareyDr. Neely provided inspiration and keen insight for all that knew him. Our acquaitance was "digital" and brief, but had profound influence on a research thread I will be following. My sincere condolences to his family. His light will certainly keep shining at the University of Central Oklahoma!-Linda Rittner, PhDI didn't have the opportunity to know Dr. Neely for very long, but receiving the Neely Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014 at the University of Central Oklahoma has been the highlight of my teaching career. I will never forget Dr. Neely's thirst for knowledge or the way he made us think about the big teaching questions during our annual Neely luncheon. I am fortunate indeed to have been honored by him and the Neely family. He will be so deeply missed, but I have no doubt that his legacy will live on in all who knew him.-Matthew HollrahI am a faculty at UCO and I met Dr. Neely twice during Neely Award ceremony at UCO. He is very humbled person and I enjoyed his deep thinking in teaching philosophy. I admired his devotion in encouraging education and great teaching. We need more individuals like him. Rest in peace.-MohamedI only have the privilege of "knowing" Dr. Neely by seeing and listening to him on his annual visits to UCO. I am very sorry to learn that we will not see him in person. Of course, he will remain in spirit with UCO and and the many institutions and people that he touched and benefited during his amazing life of giving. Thank you, Dr. Neely. Thank you, the Neely family for sharing him with us.-V. Sivarama KrishnanI am so very sorry for you loss. I always enjoyed hearing Dr. Neely's inspiring words when he spoke to the UCO faculty and staff. My deepest sympathies to you. -Emily Butterfield, DMADr. Neely was most definitely one of the most inspirational visionaries I have ever known. I learned much from him through the Neely Excellence in Teaching Award Program. Dr. Neely made a huge, positive impact to literally thousands of people, through his strive to make this world a better place and his teaching. His legend will continue from the teachings of Dr. Neely, and I am proud to be one of many to carry his mission forward.-Jim BidlackGail, my heart breaks at your passing. I will forever be grateful for your constant pursuit of excellence, precision, and truth. You were a great example to me of an excellent clinician and surgeon during my training and you helped encourage me to pursue my career as a neurotologist. I will miss you as a teacher, colleague and, most importantly, my friend. Godspeed, dear friend. -Courtney VoelkerGail was a refreshingly energizing influence at Washington University in St Louis , where I first met him. Prior to that, upon occupying my first academic post at UTHSC, he took the time to write and welcome me into the academic fraternity, even though we had never met. Gail's passion for getting to the bottom of vexing problems in medical research and teaching was inspiring to all who worked with him. Discussions and visits after he retired were similarly enjoyable.
Helen and my condolences to Susan and the wider Neely family.
Bruce Haughey-Bruce Haughey MBChB FRACS FACSGail was a upbeat and passionate teacher and surgeon on our faculty at Washington U. in St. Louis. His infectious enthusiasm garnered many student and resident adherents and potential future researchers. He was an inspiring teacher, and a devoted friend. Patsy and I feel a deep loss. Our condolences to Susan and the extended Neely family. he will be miss3ed. Gershon Spector-Gershon Spector,MDI had the privilege of knowing Gail through my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. Michael Dennis; Gail's long time colleague at the U of OK Medical Center. Gail dedicated his life to medical education and research in search of the truth. May his memory be for a blessing and his contributions live on through others. Dan Schwartz-Daniel SchwartzDr. Neely was among my favorite professors at Washington University in St.Louis from 1999 to 2003. He taught me the value of combining critical thinking and compassion into patient care. I am certain that his teachings live on in the many lives of medical students, residents, and patients that were privileged to know him.-Don NewlandI worked with Dr. Neely when he was a was a committed volunteer for continuing education for the American Academy of Otolaryngology -Head and Neck Surgery. RIP Dr. Gail. I always appreciated your commitment and humor. Best to your family.-Lynn Kenny
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