Charles “Charley” B. Neff, Sr., 68, of Nisswa, passed away on April 29, 2022, in a room overlooking Lake Superior. Charley was known for his deep faith, keen wit, and to have just an opinion or two. He will be sorely missed by those who knew him. A funeral mass will be held at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church in Nisswa, MN, and a livestream of the service will be available.
Charley was born at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Minneapolis, MN in July of 1953. He was the middle child of Burke and Sally Neff, sandwiched between sisters Barb and Katie. Charley spent his formative, and occasional misspent, years in Edina, MN. His parents raised three smart, independent, and opinionated children. Charley had a deep love and appreciation for Edina, especially when the Hornets appeared in the state high school tournament, be it the clear boards of the St. Paul Civic Center, or the Xcel Energy Center.
His career was in sales and advertising, with meanders in other areas. He got his start as a short-order cook at the now extinct Embers, eventually ending up at Prudential Insurance, where he met his future wife, Karen. Sale of Pennzoil products brought him and his new wife to the Brainerd Lakes Area, where he decided to further his education. He started at Brainerd Community College (now Central Lakes College) before finishing at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. He was ever thankful to his mother-in-law for letting him live with her while he finished at Hamline. During this time, he worked public relations for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, the Minnesota Strikers, and Brainerd International Raceway. Following college, he formed his own business, Burke Communications, which did various advertising, sales, and retail work. This included recording and producing radio spots, working with telecommunication companies, and selling Catholic media resources. Eventually, after moving to the Fargo-Moorhead area, he worked for Menards until retiring in 2018.
Charley and Karen were married in St. Paul, MN in April of the U.S. Bi-Centennial (1976). They moved just south of Nisswa in 1978. Their life changed for the better with the birth of their son Charles “Chas” Burke Neff Jr. in 1980. The family raised Chas in the Brainerd Area until moving to Fargo in 1999, to assist with Cardinal Muench Seminary as both IT Consultant and High School Dorm Parents. With the closing of the high school seminary, they moved to Sabin, MN. Charley became so invested with that community that he served as Mayor for 6 years.
Charley had a diversity of interests. He always enjoyed being out on the water, either fishing for largemouth bass or pulling tubers/skiers across the water. He rooted hard for the Gopher hockey team, and cherished the times when he and Chas could attend games in person. Charley was an avid aficionado of the Civil War, collecting books and paintings for the home, and travelling to as many sites and battlefields as he could. He was always into computers, including having an original TRS-80 in the early 80s, and using a modem to connect to BBSs in the late 80s. He could often be found tinkering with various projects, from recording equipment, to partial computers, or working on his old Thunderbird in the garage. Always with an opinion, he would frequently attempt to solve the world’s problems over a cup of coffee. One may not have agreed with Charley’s world view, but one surely knew where he stood. He was adept at tempering his politics with a quick joke to ease any tension. His creativity shined when he made his unique audio invitation tapes for Karen’s birthday party. And few could forget his mastery of the card game Peanuts, as long as he kept one foot on the floor.
The Catholic faith was very important to Charley. Baptized at Union Congregational Church, he was confirmed into the Catholic faith during the Easter Vigil at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church in 1989. Throughout his life he worked to promote and foster the Catholic Church with his gifts, from recording mission talks, to helping with various tasks at Cardinal Muench Seminary. Charley valued the fellowship and engagement while attending the St. Alice Men’s Prayer Group. During his later years, he leaned on his faith in God and Jesus to help with his suffering. He waited to pass on until a priest could arrive to give him the blessing.
Charley is survived by his wife Karen, his son Chas (Erica) Neff; his sisters Barb (Pat) LaMourea, and Katie (Tim) Neff Dawson; his in-laws Linda (Frank) Varro, Jim (Peg) Hassett, and Nancy Hassett; his nieces and nephews Burke Hancock, Cooper Dawson, Phil (Miranda) Hassett, John (Kelsey) Hassett, Beth Varro, Janice (Charlie) Vick, and Frank (Amy) Verel Varro; and many grand-nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his dear father E. Burke Neff, Jr. and beloved mother Sally Haag Neff.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Brenny Family Funeral Chapel, Baxter, MN. Visitation with a short prayer service will be on Wednesday, May 4th, 2022 from 4-6pm at the Brenny Family Funeral Chapel in Baxter, MN. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, May 5th, 2022 at 11am, with visitation starting at 10am. A luncheon will commence at the conclusion of mass, with the immediate family going to the gravesite. Charley will be interned in Greenwood Cemetery in Nisswa, MN.
Karen and Chas would like to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers during Charley’s battle with cancer. In lieu of flowers, they would appreciate donations to Assumption Abbey in Richardton, ND; Pro-Life Across America; or a charity of your choice.