Longtime American Paint Horse Association (APHA) member and Hall of Fame inductee Bill Neel of North Bend, Oregon—formerly of Central Point, Oregon, and Davis, California—died May 5 in Coos Bay, Oregon. He was 84.
Born in 1927, Bill was raised on a cattle ranch near Bisbee, Arizona. Following his service in World War II in the Pacific Theater, he moved to the West Coast and settled in Davis. There, he ran the experimental feedlot at the University of California–Davis.
A longtime supporter of the American Paint Horse, Bill owned and bred many Paints over five decades. One of his first was Kickapoo Kitten, a 1996 bay tobiano mare who earned an APHA Champion title and was the 1973 national champion in Youth Breakaway Roping with son Tom aboard. He also gained notoriety with APHA Champion Dandy Diamond, a 1968 sorrel tobiano stallion—winner of the 1971 reserve national championship in 3-Year-Old Stallions and a 1977 national championship in Senior Working Cow Horse.
Bill was listed as the breeder of nearly 120 Paint Horses. Among his credits were Genuine Funny Face, the 1998 Novice Amateur Reining world champion and 1998 reserve world champion Senior Working Cow Horse; Sabrus Littlechute, 1986 reserve world champion in Youth Working Hunter; and Mellow Yellow, the 1982 reserve national champion Broodmare.
Active in APHA on a regional and national level, Bill was an early officer in the California Paint Horse Association, an APHA director from 1972–1984 and served several years on the APHA Executive Committee. In 2012, Bill was honored as a member of the APHA Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of inductees.
Bill is survived by his wife, Jan; daughter, Barbara Taylor; son, Tom; and their families.