Cecel Grace (Atkinson) Neff

December 16, 1930 ~ August 26, 2023 (age 92) 92 Years Old


Cecel Grace Atkinson Neff, 92, of Nauvoo and Keokuk, passed away Saturday, August 26, 2023, at Southeast Iowa Hospice House in West Burlington.

Cecel was born December 16, 1930, in Keokuk, Iowa, the daughter of Alexander and Jessie Mildred Pilkington Atkinson. She was united in marriage to Estel Glen Neff on December 19, 1948, in Hamilton, Illinois.

Cecel graduated from Hamilton High School in 1948. She was a homemaker for many years, and at 60 returned to school and graduated from Midstate College, Carthage, Illinois, with a honors. She was employed as a medical transcriptionist at KAH. More recently, She co-owned and operated Neff’s Old House Books in Hamilton and Nauvoo with her husband until his death. 

Cecel was very involved in her daughters’ activities, including Room Mother, Girl Scouts and PTA.. She was also a volunteer in the community and member of Trinity United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women, as well as Newcomer Club, Hospital Auxiliary, Lee County Historical Society and Chapter LZ, and P.E.O.

Cecel was an art lover, who was fond of visiting museums and touring Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes. She was also an avid gardener with a passion for nature and spent many hours in her garden and woods. She was always interested in everything about the Mississippi and kept a close eye on it from her home on the bluff above the Great River Road.

Cecel and Estel enjoyed collecting: books, Heisey glassware, local historical memorabilia, dishes and sterling spoons. (However, she noted that her most prized possessions were those her girls made.) They were also fortunate to enjoy travel to: Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Jamaica, Israel, Egypt and Italy.

Cecel is survived by five daughters: Theresa DeJong (Dirk) of Keokuk, Sharon Neff (Ben Marion) of Ely, Iowa, Kathy Neff of Hannibal, Missouri, Martha Neff (Tom Russell) of Keokuk, and Mary Jo Riesberg (Vernon Windsor) of Keokuk; eleven grandchildren: Kathryn Scruggs (Kevin) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sarah DeJong (Joshua Koza) of Iowa City, Iowa, Elizabeth Fuchsen (Jeffrey) of Urbandale, Iowa, Laura DeJong (Jeremy Getta) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jacob Russell of Keokuk, Lindy Russell (Xavier Diez) of Barcelona, Spain, Abby Webster of South Beach, Oregon, Jordan Webster of Austin, Texas, Louis Riesberg of West Point, Iowa, Dayne Riesberg of New London, Iowa, and Jocelyn Riesberg of Houston, Texas; eight great-grandchildren: William Scruggs, Chelsea Fuchsen, Abigail and Jacob Koza, Katherine Marshall, Alyssa Spoores, Elena Cecel Diez, and Samson Riesberg.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Estel, on December 28, 2018, her parents, and her brother Paul Atkinson and his wife, Mary.

Her life will be celebrated on Saturday, September 2, 2023, at DeJong Greaves Printy Funeral Home, beginning with a visitation from 10:00 AM to 12 Noon. A P.E.O. Memorial Service will begin at 12:00, followed by a funeral service with Rev. John Raab officiating. A lunch will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church following the service. A procession will leave the church at 2:30 to Thornber Cemetery at Powellton, Illinois, for burial.

"To know her was to love her and to feel loved." 

The family suggests memorials to P.E.O. Educational Loan Fund or to Trinity United Methodist Church.

Tributes and condolences may be left at

DeJong-Greaves-Printy Funeral Home of Keokuk is in charge of arrangements.

To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.

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September 2, 2023

10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
DeJong-Greaves-Printy Funeral Home
917 Blondeau Street
Keokuk, IA 52632-4921

Memorial Service
September 2, 2023

12:00 PM
DeJong-Greaves-Printy Funeral Home
917 Blondeau Street
Keokuk, IA 52632-4921


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