WILLIAM [BILL] NEALE
Grandson of “Widdy” Neale
Interviewed March 23, 2006
Interview: part one | part two
His first memory of his grandfather is from when he was age 10-12. On a summer evening, after his father came home from work, he would go with his father and mother to meet “Grandpa” to play 4 or 5 holes at Yale. He learned to play golf that way, but more importantly he learned the rules and etiquette. He heard about players calling up “Widdy” on a Monday to get a ruling on an incident that occurred at a weekend match or tournament. After “Widdy” died he bought his home [on Mackenzie Lane in Westville]. He often ran from there through the golf course and was sometimes upset to see a player not using proper etiquette.
Other family golf memories relate to “Widdy”s brother “Greasy” Neale. Bill knew him after he retired as the Philadelphia Eagles football coach and was living on Park Ave. in NYC. Two or three times a year “Greasy” would come to play golf with “Widdy” and Bill’s father. He was allowed to tag along. “Greasy” didn’t show him much good golf, but from him he learned his first swear words, usually after “Greasy” hit his drive in the water on the 4th hole. In his scrapbook there is a scorecard showing “Widdy” score 70 and “Greasy” 85. He believes that “Widdy” lost track of the times he shot his age. He was still playing 9 holes in the year he died of a brain tumor at age 85, after a heart bypass operation at age 81. In his last year he had retired from the CSGA and attended a dinner in his honor at the New Haven Country Club, with Dick Tettleback as the master of ceremonies. He died in December and Reverend Bill Lee celebrated a Memorial in January along with a blizzard.
Bill called attention to a photograph in his scrapbook of “Greasy” and “Widdy” on the first tee at Yale with the Mara brothers [owners of the NY Giants football team]. He related the story of President Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary calling the Yale course to schedule a tee time [he would bring his own golf cart] and being told by “Widdy” that Yale didn’t allow carts. On another occasion Bill Beinecke asked to play a round with “Widdy”. During the round he asked “Widdy” what improvement he would like to make in the course. He was told that an in-ground watering system was needed to replace the gravity feed above ground system and that it would cost an amount that “Widdy” guessed at. After the round Bill invited “Widdy” to have lunch in the clubhouse. His invitation was declined. “Widdy” said that he would be going home to have lunch with his wife, as he did every day. Several days later an envelope arrived at the athletic department containing stock certificates valued at the estimated watering system plus 20%. Being turned down for lunch didn’t bother Bill Beinecke. Of course he and his family later also gave the money to rebuild the clubhouse [where you now can eat lunch in “Widdy’s”], as well as the cart barn and cart paths.
“Widdy” graduated from Yale in 1925 and his son [Bill’s father] in 1950. If Bill had gone to Yale he would have graduated in 1975. But, he was “independent” and went to New England College and then spent 10 years overseas, first in the Peace Corp in Tunisia and then he worked for Care in Haiti. He returned to go to graduate school at the Yale School of Management. He didn’t tell his parents or grandfather of his plans until after he was admitted to the SOM. “Widdy” then told him that he had attended the opening of the school as Bill Beinecke’s guest. “Widdy” was born in 1900 and his first great grandchild in 2000.