Robert H. Neja, 84, of West Bend, entered Eternal Life with Jesus on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 after 62 wonderful years of marriage with Anne “Dolly” Neja. Bob passed away at home, surrounded by his family, after his battle with pancreatic cancer.
During the funeral Mass at St. Frances Cabrini, Neja’s youngest son Peter offered some kind words about his father.
This will be brief so please pay attention.
Thank you all for coming to celebrate the life of an amazing man. Bob Neja.
Dad was a very disciplined yet sensitive and sometimes goofy man. He was an incredible husband, dad, gramps, friend, teacher, athlete and coach.
He spent his life walking with Jesus. In fact during his final weeks reflecting alone in his bedroom, saying the rosary daily with his Dolly and getting to Mass were more important than the Brewers or anything else.
Everyone around him benefited from his faith and lifestyle, especially his Dolly.
Bob and Anne’s bond is one that people pray for.
Young Bob was smitten with Anne from the start. So much that his competitive nature faltered at his high school teammates repeatedly nag him for arriving late to practice because he was off gallivanting with his Anne. As they spent more time together they developed an unwavering love for one another that continued for 62 years.
While celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary one of Bob’s grandchildren asked Gramps, “What advice can you offer to make it through 60 years of marriage?” With complete sincerity he instantly replied , “To marry Anne.”
As they built a family it was no surprise that he emulated that same level of love onto his kids and grandkids. The Nejas’ lives were full of fun and competition, family vacations, lots of games, cards included!
He was always up for celebrating as long as it didn’t involve fireworks, which he made us watch from the car to avoid the crowd.
Obviously Dad was competitive. He competed, sometimes intensely, and always in a fun way.
For example at a family reunion softball game he picked up third base and ran away with it to keep his nephew from scoring. If he was losing you sure would hear about it, but it was all in good lighthearted fun and certainly nothing a brownie with extra frosting would not fix.
People may think it’s difficult to be in high school with a parent as a teacher. Dad was so well respected by colleagues, students and athletes that he made it is easy for us. We all were so proud to have him as our father.
Although leading many teams to championships as an athlete and coach led to inductions into several Halls of Fame, Dad’s real legacy was the positive influence he had on lives.
You see, being a teacher and coach was not just a job for Neej, but a way of life.
His philosophy was “grow the kids into great people first and hopefully enjoy winning along the way.”
No matter what subject he taught or sport he coached or where he bumped into you, Dad would have an ever lasting impact on your life.
As I lived Dad again for the past 3 to 4 months I was reminded about how much of a positive effect you had on the lives he touched. So many students, athletes, friends and family reached out by visiting him in person, by calling and by sending notes.
Dad had the gift of making anyone feel like they were special and his priority.
In turn his family loved and respected him in a way that drove them to strive at following in his footsteps living a loving, faithful lifestyle that Neej could be proud o.
He was a role model for the entire Neja clan and everyone close to him.
His impact will continue to live on and the world is a better place because of him.