Dr. Thomas L. Neely of Ridgecrest, NC, former North Greenville president, died at his home on Wednesday, December 23, 2010.
Neely came to North Greenville Junior College in 1958 as the administrative assistant to the president, Dr. M. C. Donnan. He remained in that position until 1962 when he became president. Neely served as president until 1970.
Born in Greenville, South Carolina on September 11, 1915, Neely was the eldest of nine children. He was a graduate of Spartanburg High School, North Greenville College, Wofford College, and Southwestern Seminary. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Furman University and a second honorary doctorate of divinity from North Greenville College in 2002. He also did graduate work at the Central University of Venezuela, in Caracas, Venezuela.
Neely pastored in Texas for three years and in South Carolina for seven years. He served as a foreign missionary in Columbia, South America for six years and was the first Southern Baptist Missionary to Venezuela, where he served for four years. Neely was president of the Southern Baptist Convention in Colombia, South America in 1947, vice president of the SC Baptist Convention in 1957 and president in 1968. He served six years as a SC member of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. He has traveled extensively in the Caribbean, South America, and Central America as a missionary evangelist. Neely and his wife Audrey Reasbeck Neely were licensed by New Life Ministries, Inc. in Middlebury, Indiana and served in Jerusalem, Israel for three years.
Neely is survived by his wife, Audrey, two sons, Charles Henry “Harry” and his wife Patricia, Timothy Switzer and wife Janice all from Roebuck, SC; daughter, Carol and husband Steve of Roebuck, SC; two step-sons, Charles William Sorren and Daniel Timm Sorren; nine grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren; and a countless number of spiritual children.
Neely brought the keynote address for NGU’s December 2002 commencement.
“I love this hill. I spent fourteen years of my life here. Two years as a student and twelve years in administration. Many changes have occurred at North Greenville, but one thing has not; its love for Jesus,” Neely said During his commencement address.
The family requested that memorials be made to North Greenville University and designated to the Tom L. Neely Scholarship Fund. The proceeds of all donations will be used to establish a scholarship for foreign exchange students seeking a Christian education in the United States. Mail your memorial gift to NGU, PO Box 1892, Tigerville, SC 29688, or you can use NGU's online form at giving.ngu.edu. (Declare your designation in the comments box at the top of the form.)
A memorial service was held at 2pm on Sunday, December 26 at Penland and Sons Funeral Home in Swannanoa, NC. A celebration of his life will be held at North Greenville University at a time and date to be determined.