Longtime Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce economic development chairman Larry Neff — who recently retired — was “roasted” during Tuesday’s Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce’s Industrial Appreciation Committee luncheon at noon at the chamber office.
In 1986, Neff and Carl Smithson, a local insurance agent and chamber member, saw the need for an economic development committee within the chamber of commerce that could gather key community leaders together to focus on attracting and retaining industries, preparing a local workforce, and maintaining an adequate housing supply. Smithson was the chairman of the initial committee with Neff as vice-chairman. In 1987, the chairman position was handed off to Neff.
During the luncheon, those in attendance could say a few words about Neff.
“I remember one time he was thinking about building a Ramada Inn,” said Gary Pearman, a longtime realtor. “No one thought that it could be built. I don’t know how many times he said ‘by gosh, I am going to do it.’ He hung in there and got it done. And Neosho has grown that way. Every time you turn around and you have seen things that Larry has done. Larry has been very, very good for the community and a good friend. If you want him to do something, you better be prepared to get the results, because he can accomplish what he sets out to do.”
In November of this year, Neff handed the chairman position off to Ray Stipp.
“What I think impresses me as much as anything is what you all have said, that is absolutely true about Larry,” Stipp said. “But this guy’s resiliency, especially when it comes to his health, the things that he has gone through. This is one tough hombre. He has been through a lot of health issues. Larry, I admire you for your resiliency, not only in your health, but in all of the ways that you have bounced back, faced some adverse things over the years together in economic development but Larry has always had the attitude ‘well we will get past this.’ And you do my friend.”
Neosho economic director Gib Garrow also gave some kind words to Neff.
“I have really enjoyed the relationship that we have had,” Garrow said. “He is one of those people that don’t have any quit in him.”
Garrow talked about the economic development.
“I think the reason why we have so many people involved in economic development, it is a unique organization, most chambers are not separated that way,” Garrow said. “I think that the accomplishments in Neosho is because of great volunteers, but also because of Larry’s leadership and his persistency to continue.”
Page 2 of 2 - Neff thanked those in attendance.
“First and foremost, I appreciate you guys doing this,” said Neff. “I appreciate you guys taking the time to come up here and tell me that you appreciate me.”