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Neal Prussman - September 23, 2013


William “Neal” Prussman, 93, of Haxtun, died Sept. 23, 2013, surrounded by his loving family. Neal was born in Holyoke on May 12, 1920, to William Basil and Grace Marie (Cordrey) Prussman.

In his early life he was a farm boy, with his two brothers and two sisters on the family farm south of Amherst, near where his grandfather began farming in 1917. Neal attended Holyoke High School and Grand Island (Neb.) Business College and after his graduation worked for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where he met Virginia Rose Braun from Minneapolis, Minn., who worked at the Pentagon. They were married June 12, 1943.

In the book called “Sterling Heroes,” Neal was on the cover as “The 4 a.m. Messenger” for his 4 a.m. delivery on Dec. 7, 1941, to President Roosevelt’s Secretary of State. The message was a portion of Admiral Hirohito’s notice to Roosevelt that an attack by the Japanese was imminent.

Neal was drafted by the Army and sent to replacement boot camp in January 1944 and then on to Normandy’s Omaha Beach several weeks after June 6, 1944. He was shot and captured in France on Nov. 5, for which he received a Purple Heart, and was a German prisoner of war until May 8, 1945.

On that day, Neal began his trip home, with nearly 70 pounds of weight loss and yellow jaundice. He was listed MIA (missing in action) from the time of his capture until February 1945 when Virginia received a postcard that he had given to a prison hospital nurse in November 1944.

After he was released from the hospital at Fitzsimons, his parents offered him two quarters of land to farm north of Paoli. Neal and Virginia began their married life as a farm family for the next 60 years or more, and even though the opportunity was there, they never looked seriously at moving back to Washington, D.C. With the help of their many and very good friends, they farmed and raised their three children before moving from north of Paoli to the “Lohn House” on the hill, south of Paoli.

Neal spent 20-plus years on the Paoli Co-op Board, 20-plus years on the ASC committee, was a member of the Paoli and Haxtun Methodist churches since 1946 and for many years was a volunteer for the color guard to help honor other veterans. Neal was active in the state chapter of the Colorado POW and was elected to be a state commander.

Neal and Virginia had a wonderful zest for life, and over the years they filled it with square dancing and traveling worldwide with square dancing friends. They most enjoyed their close relationships with their friends and fellow church members in the Paoli church. Neal was a wonderful son, beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, husband and brother and always included his family, children and grandchildren in his life.

He was preceded in death by his mother, father and brother Dale.

Neal is survived by his adoring and loving wife of over 70 years, Virginia; two sisters, Lena McGivney of Holyoke and Dela Hofmiester of Sterling; brother, Lyle of Greeley; three children, Robert and wife Janell (Ahnstedt) Prussman of Fort Collins, Shawn (Prussman) and husband Tom Edwards of Haxtun and Lori (Prussman) and husband Warren Ward of Fort Collins; four grandchildren, Kristin (Prussman) Stouffer of Fort Collins, Jason Prussman of Denver, Ross Edwards of Haxtun and Grant Edwards of Paoli; four great-grandchildren, Jordan and Peyton Stouffer, Jacobb Prussman and Leah Edwards; and cherished friends.

The celebration of Neal’s life was held for family and friends on Sept. 27 at the United Methodist Church in Haxtun with interment following at the Holyoke Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Haxtun United Methodist Church, Haxtun Hospital Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project or an organization of the donor’s choice.

The online obituary may be found at www.gerkfuneral homes.com.

To share a story or a memory or leave wishes for the friends and family of W. Neal Prussman, send stories and condolences to bob@prussman.com. To receive a copy of “The 4 a.m. Messenger” article from “Sterling Heroes” by email or mail, email bob@prussman.com.

Gerk Funeral Homes was entrusted with the arrangements.