[Courtesy Photo]

On March 8, 1935, a beautiful black-haired boy was born to Anthon Edson Black and Fay Porter Black in Cortez, Colorado. He was named Neil Anthon Black. Neil was the oldest child and became a great big brother to Sharlet, Nicky and Albert, who was born prematurely and went back to his Heavenly Father. Neil’s mother, Fay, had rheumatic fever as a child and was sick quite a bit with heart problems. She joined Albert in Heaven when Neil was 14 years old.

Early in his life, Neil realized that he was physically stronger than others his age and learned to control his temper at a young age. In high school, Neil and some of the Blanding boys learned some wrestling moves from Dale Maughn, a coach at Monticello High School. The boys formed a small wrestling team and when Neil was a senior, there was a wrestling match between 17-year-old Neil and a certain ex-student of Monticello High School home on leave from the U.S. Army. The historic rivalry between Monticello and Blanding caused much trash talk. When Neil won the match with a pin, his uncle Art Adair laughed loudly and hollered, “That’s what I came to see.” Dale Maughn, his coach, was later heard to say, “My best memory of wrestling was when Neil won that match.” After the match, Neil went back to work and finished the day’s tasks.

In 1953, Neil met Mary Hanley at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stake conference and he was soon burning up the road between Blanding and Moab. The two dated about a year and decided to marry when Mary was 16 and Neil was 19. Neil liked to say that he “robbed the cradle” while Mary liked to say that they “grew up together.” The family began with the two of them. Now in 2021, the family numbers 64 with a great-granddaughter due in August.

Neil went to work young, as many youngsters did after the war. He was always a hard worker in the oil field, running the flour mill, or working as a mechanic, but his greatest joy was driving trucks. After working long days, he gardened with Mary and helped others fix things, one way that he gave service.

Neil was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and held many callings, including 3 stake missions, being a member of two bishoprics, and serving as a temple worker for 15+ years. He had a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the gospel and showed this knowledge by the way he lived. Neil was a strong patriarch of his family. He is the father of four valiant sons and two beloved daughters who now parent their own families following his great example.

Neil had congestive heart failure and had a heart valve replacement about 17 years ago. He was not expected to live through the surgery. We had a miracle: we got 17 more years with him. Then he had the valve replaced. The surgery was a success but his 86-year-old heart could not heal his old body. He left us quietly on July 5 at home where he was surrounded by love.

Neil was preceded in death by his son Andy Neil Black (Ghislaine, Annika, Yanci, Neila); his brother Nicky (Bonnie); and his brother, Albert. He is survived by his wife Mary; his daughters, Diana Adams and Geneil Young; his sons, Steven (Mandy), Mike (Sharon), Douglass (Vicky); his 21 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren; his sister, Sharlet; his half-brothers, Duane Black and Jeff Black; and two stepbrothers Gordon Lyman and Jed Lyman. He will be sorely missed by many.

Funeral services will be on Saturday, July 10 at 11 a.m. at the Moab LDS Stake Center (701 Locust Lane, Moab) with livestreaming on Spanish Valley Mortuary’s Facebook page. A viewing will be held one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will follow the services at Grand Valley Cemetery. Condolences to the family at www.spanishvalleymortuary.com