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Linda had just three floors to say ‘yes’

Neeleys celebrate 50th anniversary on Oct. 4

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Linda had just three floors to say ‘yes’

Bob and Linda are pictured today.

Photo contributed/

POSTED October 1, 2009 2:21 a.m.
Bob Neeley proposed to his girlfriend on an elevator – Linda had only three floors to say yes before the door opened on the third floor to the jewelry store.

It was a water skiing weekend on the Delta that first brought Bob and Linda Neeley together – now celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on October 4.

Water skiing was a passion for members of both families. Bob belonged to the Stockton Water Ski Club.  Linda, then 15, would make the trek from her home in San Jose on the weekends  to visit her dad, Chet Eccles,  who would take her out on the Delta waterways with him.

She was attending Notre Dame High School in San Jose where she was taking business classes.  That first weekend was special as it was Bob’s 21st birthday.  She was taken with this “older man” whom she enjoyed watching from her dad’s boat as he raced by on his water skis.

Linda said she was not very good on skis, but he was and he later attempted to teach her his skills.   Brother Chad “C.R.” was there too – a Western States water ski racing champion who would go like, well, faster than fast.

Their first date didn’t happen until a year later when she turned 16.  “My dad set it up but my mother objected because of the five-year age difference,” Linda said.  

Her dad was being installed as president of the Stockton Water Ski Club and had asked Bob if he had a date for the upcoming installation dinner at the Stockton Yacht Club.

No, he didn’t have a date.  “Good, you can take my daughter,” Linda quoted her dad as saying.

She said she was somewhat reluctant because she had a high school sweetheart in San Jose.  “It was very fun and a wonderful time.  I very much enjoyed being around someone more mature.”  As for her future plans she said she was always going to be a secretary who was going to get married and have kids.

Proposal took place in BofA elevator
Bob was going to U.C. Davis and was expecting to be in farming all his life.  When farming didn’t seem like it was going to work out, he went to work for Stockton Building Materials at the Brick Yards in Stockton.  He would later manage the Lathrop Road facility.

Bob’s marriage proposal had a surprise twist for Linda.  They had been shopping for his family just before Christmas in 1958 when she was half way through her senior year.

They walked into the Bank of America building in Stockton where he took her into the elevator and  she immediately asked where they were going, what were they doing there?  

His answer: “We’re going to have to have a ring if we are going to get married.”

She said it was the first she had heard of it – “We hadn’t even talked about it” – and there were just three floors to ride up on the elevator to the jewelry store for her to make up her mind.  “I didn’t say anything and received my ring in April, graduated in June and got married in October.”

She was 17 and he was 23 and a half, and she says it was “true love” they were feeling at that moment in time.  What puts and keeps couples together is the commitment they have for each other plus the children that create family.

“It’s not what you go into (marriage) it with, but what you gain as you go through it,” she said.

Bob and Linda Neeley have three children.  Mark works at Delicato Winery, DeAnn  Cadell is a beautician who owns Mirror Image beauty salon, and Jeff has taken over the reins of B.L. Neeley, Inc.  
“We are very fortunate that all the kids live within a mile and a half of us,” she added.

The longtime Manteca couple celebrated with an Alaskan cruise of 10 days with friends.  It was Chez Shari’s at Manteca Golf Course last weekend for a special fiftieth anniversary luncheon hosted by their children, and this Sunday there will be an anniversary blessing at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church followed by a family brunch at Isadore’s Restaurant.

Their best man and maid of honor were on hand for the luncheon at Chez Shari that drew some 48 friends and family from as far away as Arizona and the Bay Area.

Best man Walt Patterson came from Dorrington near Calaveras Big Trees, and maid of honor Jan Holliday attended from Palo Alto.

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