July 24, 2019
Elizabeth “Liz” Eckel Neff, 63, passed away on July 24, 2019, at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado after surgical complications. To have known Liz is to have loved her. She had a great sense of humor that could make even the most serious person smile. Her huge heart and generous spirit made the world a better place. Grieving survivors include her husband Ted Neff; daughter Sara Smolenksy and husband Matthew of Dallas, TX; sons Ted and William Neff of Fort Collins; granddaughter Ella Smolensky; siblings Pamela Clifford and husband Brian and Margaretta Svendson and husband Don; numerous nieces and nephews; and dogs, Baby, a rescued pit bull, and Greta, a German shepherd. Liz was born in 1956 in New Brunswick, New Jersey to William and Jane Eckel. She and her five siblings grew up in South America, where her father worked with General Motors and Chrysler. In 1979, after graduating from Rutgers University (Douglass College) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, she moved to Florida to be with her sister, Maggie. It was there that she met Ted. They married in 1981 at her parents’ home in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. When Ted got a new job at Hewlett-Packard in 1984, they moved to Colorado Springs. Their current house in Fort Collins has been home for nearly 30 years. All three children were raised there and their two sons now live just down the street. Early in her career, Liz worked as a legal secretary, but because she adored being a mother, she chose to stay at home and raise her children. Nothing made her more proud than seeing her children succeed and be happy. That joy was immeasurably increased with the birth of her granddaughter Ella in 2017. Theirs was a special bond. They saw each other as often as possible, spending hours at a time reading together. As her children got older, Liz rejoined the workforce and held a variety of jobs including volunteering at the Larimer County Humane Society. Later she was able to capitalize on her love of reading by working for many years as an Assistant Circulation Supervisor for the Poudre River Public Library District. In addition to reading, Liz loved to walk and often hiked for miles with her devoted dogs. She would spend hours exploring her property in the mountains, totally absorbed in nature’s beauty. She was always a very active person, even playing ice hockey in an adult league for a couple of seasons. She loved cheering for the Broncos, Avalanche, and, most importantly, her sons’ hockey teams. Liz was preceded in death by her parents William and Jane Eckel; brothers William, John, and Michael; and dogs Elsa, Meggie, Sally, and Hannah. A celebration of Liz’s life will be held Saturday, August 10 from 11am-2pm at one of her favorite places, Cafe Vino in Fort Collins. Friends and loved ones are invited to come at any time during the reception. The family will hold a private service at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Bounce Animal Rescue. https://bounceanimalrescue.org/donate-today/ Below is a piece from 2016 that Liz wrote for her “Staff Spotlight” at Poudre River Public Library District (PRPLD). This is my life, Elizabeth Neff PRPLD Staff Spotlight I was supposed to be born in Mexico City where my parents lived, but fearing complications, they flew back to New Brunswick, NJ where I was born “practically perfect in every way” (Mary Poppins) at St. Peter’s Hospital, the same hospital my good friend and co-worker, Kathleen Lewis, was born. Yes, we’re both Jersey girls. At five weeks old, I made the journey back to Mexico City, where my dad worked for General Motors. I remember nothing of Mexico except that I have an unusual affinity for dachshunds; unusual since all my dogs are large. Learned later we had five dachshunds in Mexico. Guess I remembered something! We were essentially raised by maids, so my first language was Spanish, which made my grandmother very nervous. She never knew what I was yammering for… “Galleta, galleta.” Cookie, of course. Regarding maids, my mother initially did not want them but was told by a Mexican neighbor that it was her duty to hire a maid, and, in fact, as may maids as we could afford since we provided them with a good living, especially since Americans paid better and treated them well. The maids were always our very good friends, more like brothers and sisters. We hung out with them in the kitchen all the time and they taught us Spanish songs and games. On to Caracas, Venezuela, where my dad worked for Chrysler. Memories: Venezuelans roller skating down the streets on Christmas morning singing carols; political candidates each with a different color and song, and the people wearing their colors and singing their songs in the streets; riding in a car and having my head pushed down to the floor as the police in one vehicle shot at another vehicle ostensibly filled with Communists; waiting for the horse man to come by to strap us kids on top of the horses and clattering down the streets of Caracas; sitting in the principal’s office forlornly looking out the window at the black and white anteater who would visit the school grounds. I still don’t know what I ever did to be there. Six years later...Bogota, Colombia. I remember the distinct feeling (even as a kid) that life was cheap in Colombia. On the way home from the airport on our first day there we saw a pedestrian hit and killed by the car in front of us. Another time a policeman pulled out his gun and shot a dog on the sidewalk. We were in our car and saw the dog later, injured and running, running. There was lots of poverty in Venezuela and Colombia. I remember shacks with tin roofs on the hillsides and beautiful mansions in lovely neighborhoods. Colombia also meant freedom; my dad had a new position and lots of responsibilities and my mom was busy entertaining, so the kids were let loose. We ran all over the city getting into scrapes and daring each other to do very stupid things… I’m surprised I survived to 11. My mother never knew what we were up to. Our Colombian neighbors would tell her it wasn’t safe to let us run around, as Americans were being kidnapped, but she had six kids… plenty to spare. Once again, I was in the principal’s office quite a bit, however, unlike Venezuela, I do remember what I did in Colombia. My friends and I were quite obnoxious. When we left Colombia my friend wrote me that the teacher would call her Liz. When she said, “My name’s not Liz,” the teacher would reply, “If you act like a Liz, you get called Liz.” Yikes! Our next move took us to Santiago, Chile. Santiago was very different from Caracas and Bogota. It was quite European and had less poverty. I was a lot calmer in Chile but my older brother and sister got into a lot of trouble. They were part of Chilean student rebellions against the government in the streets of Santiago. While they were plotting to overthrow the government and getting hosed by water cannons, I was plotting revenge against Gustavo Martinez for mashing gum into my hair. Essentially the political climate was changing in Chile and corporations were moving their people out. Back to the U.S. Our introduction to American culture was very shocking and difficult. There were many cliques in school, something we had never encountered before, since the schools in South America were international and the population was diverse and always changing. Everyone was a newcomer. I figured it out though and survived. College (Rutgers) was a blast. After college I moved to Tampa, FL to be with my sister. She dragged me to a party my first night there. I was tired and didn’t want to go but perked up when I walked into a room and saw a beautiful boy playing the best classical guitar I had ever heard outside of a professional. I was smitten. It took him a year to be smitten back but smitten he was, and he became my husband, Ted. We moved to CO when he graduated and got a job at HP. We’ve been blessed with three kids. The picture above is of Sara’s recent wedding. Teddy is on the left, William is on the right. Sara is an ICU pediatric nurse in Dallas, Teddy is our entrepreneur (has a game on iPhone and Android) and Will plays hockey for CSU. I love to read… One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), Henderson the Rain King (Saul Bellow) and Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) are my favorites. When not reading I’m hiking with my dogs, binge watching TV, and tending to my hard-fought, long-suffering Christian faith. That “love your neighbor as yourself” is my bane. A work in progress.
Elizabeth “Liz” Eckel Neff, 63, passed away on July 24, 2019, at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado after surgical complications. To have known Liz is to have loved her. She had a great sense of humor that... View Obituary & Service Information
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