Kenneth (ken) Neff


Kenneth (ken) Neff, age 86, passed away on July 12, 2019 after a short illness. Ken was born in Kansas City Missouri to Ralph & Loretta Neff. He had three older sisters and is survived by sister, Marjorie McDonald, of Glenview Illinois and a large extended Neff family.
After graduating from high school in Chicago, Ken entered the New Mellery Monastery where he was a monk for 13 years. At that time, he and 3 other monks started the Bellville Monastery in southern Illinois where he practiced for 18 years. He moved in 1969 to a hermitage located in Northern Anderson County and became a hermit for 18 years. In 1987 he purchased land, built a cabin where he lived, and started his volunteer work in the Palestine area.
In 1989 he became a VISTA Volunteer, worked with the child protection services, & the abused women's shelter. Up until January, he held weekly rehabilitation classes for inmates at Beto Prison, assisted at the Palestine Resource Center, the Anderson County Crisis Center, and the Palestine Regional Hospital - all volunteer work.
Ken helped hundreds of individuals over the past 32 years. He wanted to be remembered as a person that lived "A SIMPLE LIFE OF REFLECTION & SERVICE." He will be missed by his numerous friends.
Ken requested no final services and any donations in his memory be sent to the United Nations Children's Fund in New York.
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Published on July 17, 2019
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5 posts

Nick Dinneen
Aug 13, 2019
I lived with him as a monk in the early '60s at New Melleray Abbey in Iowa, and he was then just as he has been described in the tributes noted here, a gentle & giving soul, a contemplative heart-
Holly Lively-Martin
Aug 01, 2019
Ken Neff was a giver. He used his entire life to give back to the community. Whether; it was to do talk therapy to the psych hospital population or to have breakfast or a game of tennis with an old friend, he was always giving back. He was a dear friend to my dad that throughly enjoyed his company. God took back a beautiful angel and I have no doubt he dances at the feet of our Savior.
Della Metcalf
Jul 20, 2019
I first met Ken Neff when I moved to Palestine, Tx.
He conducted a spiritual healing "group" for the adult psychiatric unit and spent time with the patients, expecting nothing in return. Many of them responded very positively. I have known Ken Neff for twenty-five years. In the first days of knowing Ken, he was kind to my children; teaching them that loss is part of life and that they could control where in life they would go. Their parents had just divorced. I had the great opportunity to go see him anytime I wanted at the "Adult Life Skills" place downtown if I just needed to talk. Just about three years ago we met at Reagan Park and played easy tennis, then we sat and had meaningful co
...nversations. He had so much literature relating to wisdom, like Norman Vincent Peal, Thoreau, Dr. Dyer, Carnegie, Buddha and more. He had so much to share.
Ken was a soft spoken gentle man of great spiritual capacity. To have gotten to know him was a life changing experience for me.
He radiated compassion, love and great patience.
His family should know these things; Ken would never boast. He was sent from God to share with us. He completed his mission after touching the lives of thousands.
I'm sure Mother Teresa is on his welcoming committee at the pearly gates.
My condolences to the family. You can be proud of your relations to Ken Neff. He told me about his large family of siblings. There was a sparkle in his eyes when he mentioned his nieces and nephews. I pray for comfort to you.
Della Metcalf, Palestine, Texas
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Christopher Lively
Jul 19, 2019
Ken always conducted a wonderful education group here at psych services he will be rembered for his love and generosity.
William and Pat Gruetzner
Jul 17, 2019
So sorry to hear about Ken. He was the first neighbor we met when we moved out here. Always enjoyed talking with him.