David Lang McNeely

David Lang McNeely


Sunrise: Dec. 23, 1938

Sunset: April 22, 2016

Dave McNeely was born David Knighton, and at the age of 2 was adopted by loving parents Howard and Evelyn McNeely. ‘

He spent his entire youth and beyond, until 1981, in West Seattle with his parents and sister Mary Ann. His early days were spent camping and hiking all over the Pacific Northwest with his family and cherished dog Susie. He spent summers at Coleman Pool, Lincoln Park, and playing basketball and baseball every chance he got.

He graduated from West Seattle High School in 1956, and in usual unorthodox Dave McNeely fashion, took 13 years to go to college. He worked at West Seattle Bowling Alley, hiked, camped, golfed, danced, worked for the USPS and Boeing until he graduated from Central Washington University with a degree in special education.

In his early years of teaching, he taught and coached at Granite Falls High School where his long hair, crazy paisley shirts and audacity to play the only African American student on the football team finally drove the administration to ask him to leave. They believed him to be a communist hippie who had come to influence their youth and shake things up. He returned to his Alma Mater, West Seattle High School, to actually teach in what he earned his degree in. He became legendary for his ability to work with and relate to kids who had no social graces. In the world of special education, his category was behavior disorder; and for 28 and-a-half years, teaching “BD” kids was his passion. From WSHS to Sealth High School, to Madison Middle School, to Hamilton Middle School and, finally, Ingraham High School, Dave loved and fought for those kids who rarely had a voice or an advocate of their own. He made sure they experienced the world through hiking trips, field trips and trips to the ocean. His students loved his crazy unorthodox style of dealing with some unimaginably tough circumstances and he loved them for the profound life lessons they taught him.

In 1975, he met a young girl on Whidbey Island at JJ’s Tavern in Freeland. After surviving being stood up by her, saving her from herself in the middle of 18 holes of golf and meeting her crazy Nebraska family, he married Janet (Jan) Moss on Dec. 28, 1976, in the tiny town of Bayard, Neb. They began their married life in West Seattle, finally moving to Whidbey Island in 1981. Dave and Jan were surprised but blessed by the birth of their daughter Julie in 1989. He retired from Seattle Public Schools in 1997, and the rest of his years on Whidbey were spent golfing, subbing at LMS, hiking, golfing and more golfing. Dave was well-known for organizing golf tournaments; West Seattle Invites, the 1st Annual Non-Moving tournament and even a golf tournament/baby shower for Jan and Julie. No one ever went away from those events without a smile on their face and enough stories to write a novel.

He was preceded in death by his parents Howard and Evelyn McNeely, his brother-in-law Jim and niece Jamie. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Jan, loving daughter Julie and sister Mary Ann. He held a very special place in his heart for sisters-in-law Jeanne and Mary Beth and nephews Matt and Jason(Ginger), niece Jill(Jon) and great grandchildren Nora, Nico, Zoey and Ethan.

A memorial service for Dave will be held on Friday, April 29, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland. Please feel free to wear crazy socks, shorts, golf shirts and anything orange.

Godspeed Super Dave!

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