Lela Ann (Neece) Blair passed away on January 5, 2024, following a brief bout of aspiration pneumonia.

Lela was born to Howard and Eileen Neece on March 25, 1942, at St. John’s Medical Center in Oxnard, California. She attended grade school in Santa Paula and graduated from Santa Paula Union High School in 1960. At SPHS, she donned the costume of Joe Cardinal, the team mascot, and was featured in the 1960 El Solano. After graduation, Lela worked for Bank of America at their branch in downtown Ventura, California.  

While only casual acquaintances in high school, Lela and her future husband, Jim, began dating after he returned from serving three years in the US Army, where he was stationed in Germany. They were married on September 24, 1967.

Following the birth of her only child, Eileen, Lela left her job with Bank of America to be a stay-at-home mom. Once her daughter Eileen was of school age, Lela returned to work part-time for the Santa Paula Elementary School District, assisting the school nurse. Many remember her warm and caring nature, which made her well-known across the school campuses with staff and students alike. She would continue her career in public service, first working for the United Water Conservation District in 1982 and eventually for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, where, in 2004, she would retire.

She was an active member of St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Santa Paula, serving on the Vestry as well as other activities in the parish for many years. She served as a Brownie Troop leader and always tried to be involved in the various activities of her daughter, Eileen.

In 2004, after Lela’s retirement, she and Jim moved to Paso Robles, California, to be closer to their daughter Eileen, who had moved with her husband to the Bay Area. Jim and Lela enjoyed retirement living on the central coast close to all the areas they loved—Cambria, Morro Bay, and Monterey. They especially enjoyed hosting family and friends who would visit, often taking them to various restaurants and wineries in the area and spending time catching up with old and dear friends. They also continued to take many road trips across the United States.

Lela also loved animals, and she and Jim rescued several of them. Her favorite horse down the street brightened her day whenever she passed by. Lela also enjoyed the many road trips she and Jim took across the Southwest, from Reno to Flagstaff and even as far north as Montana. 

Lela was a warm and loving person with an outgoing personality. She had the unique ability to put others at ease, which allowed them to feel included. She had an infectious laugh and always a bright smile when she saw people she knew. She often said about herself that she was a “mover and a shaker” when it came to getting things done. She had many friends throughout her life and will be truly missed.

She is survived by her daughter Eileen Luna (Craig), brother Robert Neece (Kathy); brother-in-law, Floyd ”Bud” Blair (Mary); sister-in-law Sherry Blair; nieces Monica Greenberg (Arnold); Michele Prescott (Toby); Kris Blair; Jennifer Green (Keith); Maureen Blair; Candice Blair (Isaac); nephew Andy Neece (Amy) and great nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her husband, Jim, of 53 years, and her parents, Howard and Eileen Neece.

Services will be held Saturday, April 6, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. at the Paso Robles District Cemetery, 45 Nacimiento Lake Drive, Paso Robles, CA 93446, followed by a church service and reception at Saint James Episcopal Church, 1335 Oak Street, Paso, CA 93446. To attend the virtual service, please go to stjamespasorobles.org at 12:00 p.m.

A special thanks go to the staff of Annette Lodge in Paso Robles, where Lela lived the last two years of her life. Thanks also go out to the staff in the DOI unit at Twin Cities Hospital in Templeton for their loving care of Lela in the last few days of her life. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Lela’s name to Pet Peace of Mind, 1304 Pacific Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.