Mr. James Clay Neely, age 76, of New Tazewell, TN was born December 17, 1935 and passed away November 25, 2012 at the University of Tennessee Hospital with his family by his side. He was a member of Midway Baptist Church and veteran of the United States Air Force. Clay was a graduate of Lincoln Memorial University and received his Master’s Degree from East Tennessee State University in 1968. Clay served as principal of the Claiborne County High School from 1966 – 1968 and served as Superintendent of Claiborne County Schools from 1968 – 1979. He was a founding partner in Quick Stop Supermarket. He gained a reputation as a fair and honest businessman, always smiling and laughing with his friends and customers.
Clay was an active volunteer and served on the Claiborne County Hospital Foundation Board, chairman of the Private Industry Council of Walters State Community College, the Claiborne County Industrial Development Board and the Claiborne County Chamber of Commerce. Clay was instrumental in the creation of the Alpha School which was designed to meet the child care needs of local manufacturer’s employees. He was a 30 year member of the Claiborne County Planning Commission. Clay was also co-host of a local gospel singing program which aired on the local cable network and was an active member in the local Lions Club. In April of 1993, Clay teamed with Eddie Overholt and founded Claiborne Funeral Home. Before retirement he served as Executive Vice President of Commerical Bank.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Luther C. and Lizzie (Cardwell) Neely; brothers, Ray Neely, Gerald Neely and Luther C. Neely Jr.; brothers-in-law, Jay Heath and Lawrence (Tommy) Harmon; and sisters-in-law, Wanda Sue Cole and Marie Harmon.
He is survived by his wife, Santa Fay (Harmon) Neely of New Tazewell; daughter and son-in-law, Jayme Gilliam and husband Mike of Johnson City, Tenn.; granddaughters, Carrie Lewey and husband Nathanael of Johnson City and Leign Crumbley of Bristol, Va.; sister, Wilma Heath of New Tazewell; sisters-in-law, Dorothy Neely of Tazewell, Jackie Neely of New Tazewell, Betty Neely of Knoxville, Tenn., Mrs. Odra (Mercedes) Beeler of New Tazewell, Mrs. Hugh (Gonyou) Hardin of Tazewell; Mrs. Tommy (Sylvia) Harmon of New Tazewell; brothers-in-law, Jefferson Davis (J.D.) Harmon of New Tazewell and Hollis Cole of New Tazewell; and several nieces, nephews, a host of many other relatives and friends.
The family will receive friends Wednesday November 28, 2012 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Midway Baptist Church with funeral services to follow at 7 p.m. at the church with the Rev. Ronnie Pressnell officiating, eulogy by Mr. Roger Ball, and music by David and Stephanie Cole, Jamie Brown and Kenny Trent. Graveside services will be conducted Thursday November 29, 2012 at 11 a.m. in the Fairview Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Alan Neely, Jeff Neely, Mark Heath, Wes Gilliam, Tyler Overholt and David Heath. Honorary pallbearers will be Jerry Neely, Robert Minton and Dennis Reece.
Claiborne – Overholt Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.