Sidney Truman Neill
March 12, 1934 ~ July 3, 2021
It is with heavy hearts that the family of Sid Neill announces his peaceful passing at his residence Birchwood Terrace on the warm summer evening of Saturday, July 3, 2021.
Sid was the loving husband of Sophie (LeBlanc) Neill who he missed dearly since her passing in September 2018. Together they raised three children, Jocelyn, Rob and Mike; welcomed son and daughters-in-law Dwayne, Cathy and Paula; and doted on beloved grandchildren Colton & Hannah Yaremko; Tanner (Emily Collins) & Olivia Neill (Matt Carvalho); Jay (Natalie), Tayte (Dustin Loeppky) & Max Neill; and sweet great-granddaughters Lexi and Zelda Neill. This family meant the world to Sid and Sophie and they would be so proud to know their traditions and love live on in the genuine respect and friendship of these next generations.
Born in the mining community of Gold Rock, Ontario and raised in Wabigoon, Sid was no stranger to hard work at a very early age. He was proud of his contributions to sustaining the family in very difficult times and these early experiences came to be reflected in his frugal and determined nature – Sid never took the easy way out. Later in high school and young adulthood, Sid’s gifts as a natural-born athlete shone in track and field, football, and baseball. He often reminisced about the good times playing ball with the Wabigoon Braves and the Dryden Red Sox.
Sid and Sophie met in Dryden when she arrived there from New Brunswick to further her nursing career. They married in May 1961 and soon moved to Kenora to raise their family but maintained close ties to loved ones in Wabigoon and Dryden. Sid was extremely proud of his 35-year career building roads and bridges throughout Northwestern Ontario with the Ontario Department of Highways. Without skipping a beat after retiring from the Ministry in 1988, Sid moved straight into working another several years with Towland Construction.
When his children were young, Sid immersed himself in the sporting community at Central Community Club, maintaining the rinks and ballfields year-round. Even exhausted from a week’s work on the road, Sid would be known to quickly eat dinner and head to the community field to hit fly balls for his sons and neighbourhood kids, or tie skates with frozen fingers before flooding the rink under the bright lights of a frigid winter night. Many will remember Sid as more than a coach or trainer, but as a trusted adult behind the bench or in the dugout of many community teams. He was attentive to others’ needs, putting them before himself, always offering rides or warmer socks where needed.
Summer trips to New Brunswick, camping along the way, to maintain attachment to Sophie’s family fostered many great memories. This Northwestern Ontario boy could be found happily breaking down lobster and clam-digging with the Acadians though he barely understood a word of their French!
Sid loved people. It’s been said that he made you feel as though you knew each other even if you’d just met. Gregarious, welcoming and friendly, Sid was a familiar fixture at local gathering spots, striking up conversation in his signature baseball cap. Always willing to lend a hand, he believed strongly in investment in his community. Over the years, the Knights of Columbus, the Kenora Dragon Tamers, the Railroaders Museum, and Kenora Bass International benefitted from his contributions.
Whatever hobbies Sid took up, he did so with a passion, ingenuity, a can-do attitude and several rolls of duct tape. Be it raising ripe tomatoes and squash in his garden, tapping maple trees for syrup on his famous pancakes or competing in men’s curling, Sid rarely sat still. Once retired, he threw himself into building a camp on Wolf Island as a lasting legacy for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. This became Sid and Sophie’s second home where neighbours became fast friends, and Sid remained on the lookout for where he could lend a helping hand.
Papa Sid loved his grandchildren absolutely and proudly spoke about their accomplishments to anyone who would stop to chat at the grocery store. Many happy years were spent either at the house or camp doing homework, Christmas baking, polishing driftwood, painting rocks, building tree houses and indulging in Papa Sid’s delicious pancakes. No one will ever duplicate them...we suspect that the extra dose of love he added for the kids was the magical ingredient.
The close-knit Central neighbourhood formed the backdrop for Sid’s growing family. Special memories were made with the Wongs on Christmas Eves, the Rasmussens across the back lane and the Bowens and Degagnes on card nights. These neighbours eventually became integral in supporting Sid to remain in his home as long as possible. Many many thanks to Jamie, Don, Debra, Paula and others for your keen attention and loving care for Sid, and the patience and professionalism of the Ontario Provincial Police. The benefits of our small but caring community cannot be overstated.
The family also extends sincere appreciation to all of the staff and fellow residents at Birchwood Terrace for their respectful care of our Dad and Papa over the past eleven months.
In many ways, Sid was larger than life and his presence and influence will be greatly missed by many. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name to Triple PLAY (www.tripleplaykenora.com) which works to ensure all children have equal opportunity to participate in positive leisure activities, would be greatly appreciated. Alternatively, donations to the local Alzheimer Society can be made at (www.alzheimer.ca/krr) to support people living with dementia, and their care partners.
A private interment service for family will take place at the Lake of the Woods Cemetery. A Celebration of the Life of Sid Neill is being planned for a later date.
Online condolences may be made at www.brownfuneralhomekenora.com
BROWN FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION CENTRE ENTRUSTED WITH ARRANGEMENTS.