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-o0o- Eileen finds herself living on the boyhood farm of her


late husband, a sprawling 500-acre tract of meadow. She returned to Vinita with Charlie when he retired from


clinical practice in June 1990. They have a son, Charles Henry Neer, now a sophomore at the University of Okla- homa.


Fire claimed the original farmhouse back in the 1920s.


The big red barn out back is the lone reminder of the original homestead. Both the cottage and garden are rela- tively new additions to the landscape. Dr. Charles Sumner Neer arrived in Indian Territory


before statehood by way of Beaucoup, Illinois. He estab- lished a medical practice with longtime friend and colleague Dr. Louis Bagby and was the only surgeon eastern half of Oklahoma Indian Territory. Charles Sr. passed away at the age


of 39, leaving wife Pearl with two children to raise. Eileen often ponders the tough


decisions made by a mother-in-law she never knew. How difficult it must have been for Pearl Brook Neer to lose a husband at such a young age and raise a family on her own. Eileen can scarcely imagine how


agonizing it must have been for Pearl to send her only son to an Episcopal boarding school in Faribault, Minne- sota, for his own good. She must have had an inkling—mother’s intuition, no doubt—that great things lay in store for this bright young man. Pearl knew her son would not be


challenged in a way that he needed by the limited opportunities of rural life. How she must have questioned this decision when her beloved son thought it cruel to be sent to such a cold place with no friends or family. But what yielded from this


said, crediting Pearl with making the tough decisions that helped set the course for Charlie’s future. Pearl was from Springfield, Missouri, and had herself


attended college in the late 1800s in order to pursue a teaching career. “I think she was way ahead of her time,” Eileen said.


“The world was changing dramatically at that time. She was an avid reader and I think that she had a lot of foresight. She thought Charlie needed to have more opportunity. Her decision to send him away to Minnesota opened doors for him. I don’t believe he would have had those opportunites otherwise.” Added Eileen: “I never met her, but I’ve lived in her


home. I’ve used her China. I feel like I know her.” -o0o-


Oklahoma is home now for


Eileen Neer. The Vinita community is a


world away from the hustle and bustle of New York, but it is a place she has grown to love. “I’ve been out here full time


for 22 years,” she says in a decidedly New York accent that doesn’t go unnoticed by a visitor. “I’ve had my accent longer


than I’ve been in Oklahoma,” she replies with a polite smile. “It’s so different here,” she


Take a stroll through the lovely garden while visiting Neer Farm.


decision was unquestionable. Charlie emerged from Shattuck-St. Mary’s a disciplined young man, so well trained that he could continue his education at the Ivy League College of his choosing. Dartmouth was his pick and again he excelled. Next was the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. His residency training years were inter- rupted by military service. He would serve in three theaters as a Captain in the U.S. Army. This was just the beginning for Charlie and his gifts. He


lived a life without limitation, just as his mother envisioned. “To come from such a small town and humble upbring- ing and accomplish what he did just amazes me,” Eileen


admits. “There were more people who worked in the medical center than what live in Craig County. The quiet out here is quite different. You can almost hear your heart beat when the wind isn’t blowing.” Eileen still travels. She does


her best to remain in touch with friends across the globe that she and Charlie made during their


journey together. It also helps fill other voids that remain from her former life. “I do miss the ocean. I grew up around the water. To be


in a landlocked state is a big change,” she said. -o0o-


It is said that there is joy in the morning, and Eileen


finds it by staying busy in the garden or the shop. She enjoys visiting with customers and making candles. Opening the shop doors each morning to a view of the pond and three retired thoroughbred races horses grazing in the pasture is a source of joy for her.


(continued on page 10)


May 2012 5


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