George Alexander McNeill Jr. passed away peacefully in his home in Laurel on Saturday, July 20, 2019.
He was born in Laurel on Sept. 27, 1934, to George Alexander McNeill and Eria Amanda Willett McNeill.
He is survived by a daughter, Lida Rogers, of Indianapolis, Ind.; and two sisters, Martha Noel (Bennie) of Oxford and Laurel and Sandra Bryant of Flowood. George is also survived by nieces and nephews Kathy Noel Robinson (Bill) of Laurel, Deborah Noel Odom (Tim) of Hurley, Lisa Noel Robinson (Ron) of Guntown Brad Noel (Christie) of Oxford, Neill Bryant (Sally) of Flowood and Scott Bryant (Chelsey) of Flowood. Great-nieces and great-nephews include Amanda Robinson, Brett Robinson (Brittany); Chase, Kendall, Morgan and Jacob Robinson; John, Mary Grace, George and Anna Bradley and Hank Noel; and Jack and Andrew Bryant. He is also survived by a great-great-niece Stella Robinson, as well as other extended family. Additionally, George leaves behind a cherished family in New York, the Murphys, Kathleen, Madeleine, Gabrielle, Jacqueline and Genevieve. Courtney Creel of Laurel was a special friend who played an important role in his life during the past few years.
George was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law Robert B. Bryant, all of Laurel.
George attended Laurel City Schools and graduated from George S. Gardiner High School. George continued his education at the University of Mississippi, graduating with a degree in political science.
He then began an illustrious career as a journalist, working at various newspapers throughout the South and Southwest, including the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville, under the direction of the iconic Hodding Carter. George then moved to New York, while still in his 20s, and pursued a career as an author, which resulted in several successful novels. He enjoyed his time in New York and made many lifelong friends there. He enjoyed traveling abroad as well, visiting and living in locations such as Turkey, Greece and, his favorite, Rome, Italy.
After moving back to Laurel when his parents passed away, he enjoyed getting to know people during the revival of Downtown Laurel. Many Downtown Laurel regulars will remember “Mr. George” as a fixture at Lee’s Coffee and Tea or as a pedestrian strolling the streets of Laurel. He was extremely proud of his hometown and spoke of it often to friends far and wide.
“Mr. George” is featured in a cameo role in a historical children’s guidebook about downtown Laurel titled “I live in Laurel.” An avid journal-keeper, George recorded many adventures, which he wrote about later in his life in newspaper columns and also in a memoir, published a few years ago.
He received several awards from the Mississippi Press Association for articles he wrote for a local newspaper.
It is safe to say that “Mr. George” lived life on his own terms.
As per his wishes, there will not be a service and his body has been donated to science.
Memorial donations may be made to Laurel Main Street, 409 West Oak St., Laurel, MS 39440 to continue the legacy of revitalization of Downtown Laurel