Robert Strange ‘Bo’ McNeill

Published 1:55 pm Monday, February 3, 2020

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Mr. Robert Strange “Bo” McNeill, 91, died Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 at the UNC Hospice Home in Pittsboro, surrounded by his family.

He was predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Phyllis.

Survivors: his children, Robert S. McNeill Jr. (Sharon), of Carrboro; 2 daughters, Elizabeth Walker (Lloyd) of Austin, Texas, and Ann Marie McNeill (Diane) of Chapel Hill; and 3 grandchildren, Olympia Walker, and Allison and Philip McNeill.

A retired editor for United Press International (UPI), Mr. McNeill was born July 16, 1928 in Statesville, the son of Robert Strange McNeill and Margaret D. Meroney. He attended public primary school in Mocksville, and Oak Ridge Military Academy in Oak Ridge. While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and received his bachelor’s degree in journalism, class of 1949. He took a position with the Salisbury Post as a staff reporter. Mr. McNeill is a veteran of the Korean War, having enlisted in U.S. Air Force in 1950, serving as a staff sergeant for the Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes and earning a Bronze Star (1954) for meritorious achievement in ground operations against the enemy as a war correspondent. Following discharge from the USAF, Mr. McNeill began employment with UPI as a newspaper reporter in Birmingham, Ala. On a trip back to his hometown, he reunited with Phyllis, his childhood sweetheart, and the two were married in 1955 and moved to Tampa, Fla. Mr. McNeill wrote stories for UPI on the creation of NASA and the U.S. Soviet Space race, missile launches at Cape Canaveral, and international Grand Prix competitions at Sebring International Raceway. In his 38-year career with UPI, he transitioned from features reporter to desk editor for North Carolina (Raleigh, 1962-1965) and Washington, D.C. until his retirement in 1992. Mr. McNeill was a fly-fisherman, tying his own flies and building custom rods. He and Phyllis enjoyed numerous salmon fishing trips along some of the most storied rivers in the U.S., Canada and Scotland. Mr. McNeill and his wife moved back to North Carolina to a retirement community in Burlington in 2012 after living in Bowie, Md. for 47 years.

A memorial graveside service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 1:30 p.m. at Joppa Cemetery in Mocksville.

Memorials: Joppa Cemetery Foundation ( by writing “For Joppa Cemetery, Inc. Fund in memory of Robert S. McNeill” in the memo section of check or in “Allocate Donation” field on website.