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Sutersville businessman liked to keep busy

| Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004

Herman "Humpy" Neff worked hard all of his life -- from toiling in mines and steel mills after eighth grade, to marching across Europe while in the Army, to helping to run a family lumber company.

"He was a very hard worker," son Jeffery Neff said. "He would never sit around. He was always busy building something or moving something or digging up something."

Herman "Humpy" Neff, of Sutersville, died Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004, in Jefferson Hospital, Jefferson Hills, Allegheny County. He was 83.

Mr. Neff was born Jan. 7, 1921, in McKeesport, Allegheny County, a son of the late Benjamin and Fredericka (Shiffman) Neff.

He was raised in Sutersville.

"He didn't graduate from high school," Jeffery Neff said. "He went up to the eighth grade and left school in the eighth grade to go to work."

He worked hard jobs -- in a mine and at a steel mill in Pittsburgh.

But he didn't go far to find a wife. Mr. Neff lived on Seventh Avenue in Sutersville. Kathleen Miller lived on Eighth Avenue.

They weren't married long when Mr. Neff was drafted into the U.S. Army.

He trained for two years in the states with the 11th Armored Division before being sent to England. Just a few months after he arrived, the Battle of the Bulge began and Mr. Neff was diverted to help.

"He remembered force marching from the sea 500 miles through Paris into Belgium and fighting the next day," Jeffery Neff said. "They had to do that without stopping."

Mr. Neff, a tank commander, received a Bronze Star for his action during the battle.

The Third Army was trying to link up with the First Army near Houffalize, Belgium.

An armored car got stuck in a tank trap and Mr. Neff's tank was sent out to retrieve it. He was able to get it out while being fired upon.

Mr. Neff did not talk about his years in the Army much. After the Battle of the Bulge, his unit traveled across the Rhineland and into Czechoslovakia and Austria.

"In his later years he and I used to discuss it, but he didn't talk about it too much," Jeffery Neff said. "But I've read a lot of books on his division and the things that they've done."

When Mr. Neff got back to Sutersville in 1946, he started working for his wife's father, building houses.

Mr. Neff's father-in-law started Sutersville Lumber Co. Mr. Neff worked there and, upon his father-in-law's retirement, became a co-owner with three of his brothers-in-law.

"He knew all the ins and outs of building houses," Jeffery Neff said. "He built our house."

Mr. Neff worked at the lumber company until his retirement in 1987. The company folded a few years ago.

Shortly after his retirement, Mr. Neff's wife died. He eventually met and married another Sutersville woman, Betty (Churchman) Pinter Neff.

Mr. Neff loved to travel and had been to Alaska a couple of times.

"He liked the outdoors quite a bit. He liked to hunt," Jeffery Neff. "And he was an avid bow hunter. He was a member of the Sutersville Sportsman's Club for a number of years. He actually helped build the grounds."

Mr. Neff was a member of Highland Grove United Methodist Church in McKeesport and Blyth Lodge #593 F&AM in West Newton.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his first wife, Kathleen (Miller) Neff; a sister, Alma Robinson; and two brothers, Arthur and Charles Neff.

He is survived by his wife, Betty (Churchman) Pinter Neff; four children, Candace Neff Novack and husband, Michael, of Tucson, Ariz., Jeffery Neff and wife, Alice, of Rochester, N.Y., Kathy Neff DelCotto, of Irwin, and Marion Sue Neff Stipe and husband, Howard, of Princeton Junction, N.J.; three grandchildren, Brian Feals, of Irwin, Meredith Neff, of Hawaii, and Patrick Neff, of Rochester, N.Y.; a stepson, Robert Pinter and wife, Samye, of Belle Vernon; a stepgranddaughter, Sharmaine Burns, of Belle Vernon; a great-grandson, Dylan Rupert; three sisters, Dorothy Toman, of Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County, Irma Frazier, of Michigan, and Charlotte Gibb, of McKeesport; a brother, William Neff, of West Newton; and a number of nieces and nephews.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today at the J. William McCauley Funeral Home Inc., West Newton, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday with the Rev. William Heaton and the Rev. D.J. Quirn co-officiating. Interment will be in West Newton Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Highland Grove United Methodist Church, 2909 Highland Ave., McKeesport.

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