Gene Neeley, WWII veteran known for work with Peoria Honor Flight, dies at 97

WWII veteran Gene Neeley was known across the area for his work with the Greater Peoria Honor...
WWII veteran Gene Neeley was known across the area for his work with the Greater Peoria Honor Flight.(WEEK)
Published: Nov. 20, 2022 at 9:36 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - A World War II veteran known for his fundraising work with the Greater Peoria Honor Flight and his involvement in the community has passed away.

Gene Neeley’s death was confirmed in a post on the official Honor Flight Facebook page. The organization says the veteran was responsible for raising thousands of dollars for the group.

Friend of Neely Rick Otey said he and other friends of Neely were surprised to hear of his death, even though he was 97.

“Gene was like the energizer bunny,” Otey said. “Just because Gene was always active and it was likely he would probably outlive all of us.”

Otey said Neely passed peacefully in his home. They are hoping to honor him and his life for his visitation and funeral service with bagpipe performances and an appearance from the Gibson Girls.

Additionally, they hope to have flags line the five-mile procession from United Methodist Church in Tremont to his final resting place.

Neeley was also often seen at Peoria International Airport, there to greet veterans as they departed and returned for their trip to Washington, DC during their Honor Flight travels.

Among his many accomplishments, Neeley was awarded the French legion of honor in 2019 for his military service. He was 97 years old.

The obituary for Neely has not yet been posted. His visitation will be from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on November 30, at United Methodist Church in Tremont. Additional visitation will start at 10 a.m. December 1. His funeral service will be at 11 a.m. December 1.