William “Neal” Baxter, 90, of North Platte departed this life on March 30, 2014, at Great Plains Regional Medical Center in North Platte.
Neal was born on October 26, 1923, to Archibald and Irene Baxter at their farmstead home near Dannebrog, NE. After graduating from Dannebrog High School, he attended St. Paul Business College, worked for the AAA (Agriculture Adjustment Act) and helped his dad on the farm for a few years before serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII. After an honorable discharge from military service, he enrolled in the University of Nebraska under the G.I. Bill, where he joined Farmhouse Fraternity and was a member of the fraternity’s barbershop quartet, who were popular performers around campus and continued singing together until very recently.
On June 11, 1950, he married Anna May Stewart in her home town of Edgar Nebraska. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Agronomy, he and Anne moved to Lexington, NE, where Neal became the assistant to Dawson County Extension Agent Harold Stevens in 1950. A year later, he was hired as the County Extension Agent for Lincoln County, spanning 15 years, and was very involved in the 4-H and Rural Youth programs during those years. The couple continued to live and raise their family in North Platte from that time on, except for one year spent in Madison, Wisconsin where Neal had a fellowship grant to earn his masters degree. After that year, Neal and Anne moved their family back to North Platte, where Neal was hired as the Information Specialist at the University of Nebraska’s West Central Research and Extension Center (WCREC), responsible for providing timely information to area County Extension Agents. He went on to serve two different stretches as acting Superintendent of WCREC before his retirement in 1982. .
Neal was very involved in his church and community, having served on the original NebraskaLand Days Board of Directors and as President of the North Platte Noon Rotary Club and also served as District Governor for Rotary District 5630. He greatly enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities, in particular snow skiing and camping. Music was a passion for Neal and he was always happy to strike up a song for anyone who might want to join in. He loved his involvement in the North Platte Community Playhouse and performed in 12 different productions, including his favorite role of “Tevye“ in “Fiddler on the Roof”.
Neal is survived by his wife of (63) years, Anne, of North Platte; four sons, Stewart of North Platte, Dr. Kim (Nancy) of North Platte, Brian (Carrie) of Chaska, MN, and Paul of North Platte; grandson Logan Baxter and granddaughter Haley Baxter of Kearney; grandson Craig Baxter of Memphis, TN and granddaughter Mikaela (David) Meagher of Lincoln; granddaughter Elizabeth Baxter of Charlotte, NC and grandson Brandon Baxter of Hastings; his sister Ardyce Worth of Berkley, CA; four nephews and five nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother David, and his sister Norma.
Memorials are suggested to First Presbyterian Church, Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation, MNCF North Platte Rotary Club Fund, North Platte Community Playhouse (“Light Up the Marquee” Fund Drive), or donor’s choice. Online condolences may be shared at www.adamsswanson.com.
Funeral service will be at 10:00 a.m. Friday, April 4, at the First Presbyterian Church at 1901 West Leota in North Platte, with the Rev. Polly Deppen-Williams officiating. Burial will follow at the Fort McPherson National Cemetery near Maxwell. Visitation will be 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday at Adams and Swanson Funeral Home at 421 West 4th Street.