“Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” Michael J. Fox
Rocky E. Neal was born on September 23, 1954 in Arkansas City, Kansas to Kenneth Neal and LaVerna Nelson.
Rocky’s life story is no ordinary tale. It is characterized by his deep love of family and community, witty humor, passion for hot air ballooning (and Hot Tamales candies), and a determination to help others find financial security and live their best life.
Even as a teen, Rocky was no stranger to adventure and embraced life head on. Through the Rotary Club exchange student program he was chosen to study in Toowoomba, Australia his senior year. This experience stayed with him for the rest of his life cementing his love of languages and connecting with people from different backgrounds.
In 1973, Rocky attended the University of Wyoming to major in French. Using the exchange program, he furthered his studies at the University of Dijon, in Dijon, France then graduating from University of Wyoming in 1976. He was fluent in French and Spanish, as well as learning to speak Chinese and Italian. Arguably, his command of the English language, written and spoken, is something worth noting. It mattered to him the meaning behind words and how things were said. A timeless lesson that those around him are better for learning.
His family meant more to him than anything else in the world, something he proudly and often mentioned. In 1977, Rocky saw the future love of his life, Dee, one sunny afternoon at the Alcova Reservoir in Casper, Wyoming, To his surprise and delight, Dee walked into where he worked to apply for a job. Rocky snuck into the manager’s office to check her employment application to see how old she was. Judging her old enough, they soon dated and the rest, as they say, is history. The two married on June 3, 1978.
He was endlessly proud of his two children, Jeffrey Neal and Jennifer Neal Madsen and their spouses, not only because of their accomplishments and careers but who they became and the families they are raising. His six grandchildren gave him lots of opportunities to show them his Chinese underwear (if you know, you know), sticky popcorn recipe, and how to sneak candy out of his office. All important life skills. But, it was his work ethic and value of a hard earned dollar that left an indelible impression on their young hearts.
Rocky was truly a force of nature, determined to provide for his family and give them the life they deserved. He worked in the Financial industry from 1977 to 2021 totaling over 44 years. Rocky retired as a Wealth Management Advisor, Certified Financial Planner (CFP® ), Chartered Financial Consultant (CHFC® ), Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC® ), and First Vice President with Merrill Lynch. His vast knowledge of money markets, the financial industry at-large and current domestic and global events made him a cut above his peers. Early in his career he was named as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America, and was further honored with multiple awards over the years. But, these attributes and awards were not the only things that impressed his clients. It was his heart. It was his genuine desire and dedication to see every person in his life, client or not, fulfill their God-given dreams and meet their financial goals. His clients became a part of his extended family. This same dedication and connection with people is carried on by his children and grandchildren.
Throughout his life he was so proud to have made many wonderful friendships within community organizations such as the Wyoming Jaycees (State President), Rock Springs Balloon Rally (President), Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary Club International.
For Rocky, no hobby brought him more joy than Hot Air Ballooning, a pastime spanning over 30 years, multiple countries, and countless hours in the air. Ballooning brought out his adventurous nature, his desire to learn new things, and love of meeting new people. It created untold memories and epic stories of soaring heights, peaceful views, wild chase routes, and (sometimes) even wilder landings.
Like his Hot Air Balloon rides, Rocky’s life is not one anyone will forget. One of his granddaughter’s said it best, “Gacky lived a bucket list life. He had an amazing family, spoke multiple languages, lived on another continent, and flew hot air balloons! I mean, who does that?!” Rocky did.
At the age of 67, Rocky E. Neal, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, crossed into Heaven peacefully on May 21, 2022 with his children and wife lovingly by his side.
Celebration of Life and Memorial Balloon Flight Details:
All Events take place at the Neal Fun Farm
2450 S. Washington Fields Rd, Washington, Utah 84780
September 23, 2022 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Celebration of Life Service followed by Open House Reception
Ice Cream Bar served by Neal Grandkids
September 24, 2022 Memorial Balloon Flight:
Memorial Balloon Flight to lift off at Sunrise followed by a Tailgate Breakfast
All those whose lives were impacted by Rocky Neal are welcome.
“When my old man grinned, nobody could help but grin too.” — Ernest Hemingway, “My Old Man”