James McNeese, M.D, 89, of Oak Park, died peacefully at home on Aug. 28, 2014. The "first baby born in the New Year on Jan. 1, 1925, in Shawnee, Okla." and the only child of James W. McNeese and Florence Hunter McNeese, "Little Jimmie's" mother and his maternal grandmother, Maud Hunter, had Cherokee ancestry and both women were listed with Cherokee names on a ledger of the Nation. Proud of his heritage, he relished stories about the culture. He started school at a very early age and had already worked in various levels of medicine before completing his Doctor of Medicine from Medical School of the University of Puerto Rico in 1965. He was an intern in Texas and did his residency at Cook County Hospital in dermatology. Settling his family in Oak Park, he began private practice in LaGrange in 1969. He had a passion for puzzling cases, especially in the field of tropical medicine. Dr. McNeese was a life member of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Health issues caused him to retire early from his medical practice, but he continued to be a student, eventually working his way through many volumes of the Great Courses program. Jim loved liberal/progressive politics. He worked hard in the Democratic Party and headed the Portland, Oregon "Young Democrats" during the Kennedy campaign of 1960. His "handshake photo" with then-candidate Kennedy was a prized possession. He was also an avid chess player, writer, dreamer, musician and poet.
James McNeese is survived by his loving, blended family, including his daughters, Amanda McNeese and Amy McNeese-Mechan, and his son, Terry McNeese (Karen Farmer). Upon Jim's marriage in 1976 to Mona (Leininger) McNeese, he became a part of the lives of Mona's daughters, Robin Zimmerman and Dana Zimmerman Murphy (Michael Murphy), and he will always be Grandpa Jimmie to Tom, Dan and Jack Murphy. He was preceded in death by his infant daughter, Megan.
"A Gathering of Gratitude for the Life of James McNeese" will be held at Unity Temple, 875 Lake St., in Oak Park on Sunday, Sept. 28. The family will greet friends at 1:30 p.m. with the service beginning at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Doctors Without Borders, or a charity of your choice are suggested.
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