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From the Niswonger Foundation Team

We write this with great sadness over the unimaginable loss of our close friend and director of the Niswonger Foundation L.I.F.E. program, Larry Gene Neas, who passed away on Friday, May 8th.  He was 67.

This kind, caring man, was a wonderful friend to all of us, being supportive of each individual person, no matter what their role was at the Foundation.  Larry believed in openness and honesty.  He said what he meant, and meant what he said, yet did so with grace and kindness.  He was always interested in what was going on in our lives, asking about our children or family members.  We always teased him because no matter where we went, he always saw someone he knew, whether it was a former student or someone he had worked with in a school.

He began his career in education in 1973, serving as a teacher and principal in several Greene County and Greeneville City schools.  He came to the Foundation in 2010 as the Compliance Officer for the Federal i3 grant received by the Foundation.  He continued in that role for the five years of the grant and then remained with the Foundation as Project Coordinator and director of the L.I.F.E. program. Larry worked directly with Literacy Specialists Amanda Carpenter (Greene County) and Sara Holt (Hancock County), passionately serving the students of their respective schools to improve literacy.

Larry had a huge heart for the children he served and was genuinely interested in their lives, their success, their well-being.  He would tearfully tell stories about the children he had met and the impact they had on him.

Another project that Larry took a leadership role in at the Foundation was the new "Joyful Literacy Land" library at the new Foundation office on North Main Street.  He spent many hours with literacy and library specialists coordinating and organizing the books and library units.  He was very proud of the finished product and was so excited for the day of the grand opening.

The work he did as an educator, the love he gave as a friend, husband, dad and "poppy" will always and forever be remembered by all whose lives he touched.  "Our hearts are heavy friend, and we will always miss your sweet spirit."

Some people come into our lives

and quickly go.

Some stay for a while

and leave footprints on our hearts

and we are never, ever, the same.

-Flavia Weedn

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