Darrell O. McNeil

Darrell O. McNeil, Colonel, US Army (Retired), 90, passed away on May 17, 2019 at Midland Hospice House in Topeka after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis.  He was born January 17, 1929, in Delphos, Kansas, to Owen Renrick and Hazel Helen (Hart) McNeil.

Darrell had a happy childhood growing up in the small town of Delphos, where he fished, hunted, played tennis, helped with the family backyard garden, milked their cow, learned to play the piano, worked part-time in Jesse Olds shoe and men’s clothing store, and played football and basketball in school.  He left Delphos after his freshman year to complete high school and graduate in Peabody, Kansas in 1947.  Darrell gained quite a reputation as a local sports star, particularly in track and field and the javelin throw!

During high school, he worked at Keller’s Clothing Store where he developed his life-long love of fine suits and learned to dress impeccably.  Darrell returned to the Delphos area to work the summer wheat harvest during his high school and college years.  As part of the custom harvest crew, he drove a truck, scooped wheat, then became a combine operator.

Darrell graduated from Kansas University in 1951 with a B.S. in Business (plus 10 graduate hours in Finance).  He lived at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity on campus, was a member of Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity, and distinguished himself within Beta Gamma Sigma, the national honor society in business and accounting, by graduating in the top 2% of his undergraduate class.

From 1951-1955, Darrell was a US Navy air intelligence officer and flew reconnaissance flights during the Korean Conflict.  He served two overseas deployments at Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan, and at Kwajelein in the Marshall Islands.  Darrell met his wife of 65 years, Janet Brickner, who was also an active duty Navy officer, at Officers Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, while he attended Naval Legal Justice School.  Darrell & Janet were married in 1953 while he was stationed in Whidbey Island, Washington, assigned to Patrol Squadron VP-29.

Darrell attended KU Law School from 1955-1957 where he earned his Juris Doctorate degree.  Afterwards he went into the Army as a judge advocate, and retired as a full-bird Colonel in 1974 completing his 23-year military career.  Darrell was awarded several medals including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnamese Gallantry Cross.  Darrell’s decorated Army service included tours of duty in:

    *  Fort Meade, Maryland

    *  Landstuhl Army Medical Center, West Germany

    *  Army Judge Advocate General School, University of Virginia

    *  Fort Sam Houston, Texas

    *  II Field Force Vietnam, Bien Hau, Vietnam

    *  Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

    *  Army Combat Development Command, Fort Belvoir, Virginia

    *  Staff Judge Advocate, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

In Topeka starting from 1975, Darrell worked 29 years as a State of Kansas attorney in (1) Department of Administration, (2) Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services, and (3) Revisor of Statutes Office for the Kansas Legislature, retiring in 2007.

Darrell loved to play piano and organ, and was fascinated with old homes and real estate.  Those close to Darrell knew his true passion was for cars!  He worked at Honeyman Auto Plaza for 12 years after retiring from the state.

Darrell is survived by his wife Janet (Brickner) McNeil; son Michael McNeil and wife Loretta; son Richard McNeil; daughter Laura McNeil and husband Brian Sudis; son William McNeil and wife Katrina Webb; granddaughter Stephanie and husband Tim Ayers; granddaughter Samantha and husband Ryder Florin; granddaughter Andrea McNeil; grandson Andrew McNeil; and two great-grandchildren Cameron Fish and Abigail Ayers.

Funeral service with full military honors will be held on Monday, August 26, 2019 at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery 11:00 am.  For those attending, meet by 10:30 am (intersection of Metropolitan & 4th St.) in the large parking lot of the Visitor Control Center, 1 Sherman Ave, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027.  Turn headlights on as your car follows the funeral procession through Grant Gate then onto the cemetery. 

Information can be found here: 


Also Visitor Control Center: 


Family visitation and memorial will be held at Janet McNeil’s home in Topeka, Kansas, following the funeral from 2-5 pm on Monday, August 26, 2019.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Midland Care, 200 SW Frazier Circle, Topeka, KS 66606.  The family would also like to thank Advantaged Home Care for their kind support.

4 “Darrell O. McNeil

  1. As long as Betty and I knew Darrell and Janet and enjoyed their company on many occasions, their was much I did not know about Darrell until I read this obituary. I did know him as a fascinating person with his ability playing the piano and organ, his passion for cars and old houses. We enjoyed many a session as part of a Tripoly card group, dining at each others houses and at restaurants. I had only scant knowledge of his military career as extensive and decorated as it was and his boyhood achievements in sports. He made an impression on my life that will never go away. Rest in peace old friend.

  2. To the family of Darrell McNeil: I visited Darrell in his home and last of all at Midland Care House. We had wonderful conversations, and he frequently shared with me his love of reading. He would often say to me, ” I have talked a lot today, but next time I want to hear from you.” My response was usually, “I like to listen to what you have to say.” We developed a wonderful friendship, and I am going to miss Darrell my good friend. I extend to you, the family members,
    my deepest sympathy. May our loving God provide you comfort, and may friends and family be supportive as well. — Larry Dixon, volunteer for Midland Care Connection

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