William McNeil

Alton |

William Ferguson McNeil, 76, passed away peacefully at his home in Alton, Illinois. He was born May 4, 1947 in Dunfermline Fife, Scotland to the late Annie Russell (McKnight) McNeil and William Ferguson McNeil, a bagpiper with the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment. McNeil and his family immigrated to the United States when he was just a child. They arrived here on St. Patrick’s Day, then settled in Wood River.

McNeil graduated from East Alton-Wood River High School, earning an athletic scholarship to Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, then later transferring to SIUE, where he graduated. He played soccer there and majored in political science.

Lovingly known as Bill or Uncle Bill to many, then more recently earning the title Grandpa Bill, he was a self-proclaimed gypsy at heart and although he could be a cantankerous old man at times, he had a heart of gold underneath it all. In his younger years, he loved to host friends and family and would feed anyone he could. Food and music were both a love language for him. He loved music, nature, and books, and he gave his daughter and the rest of his family a love for all of that and more. He and his late sister May were very artistic and their artwork will be cherished by their family for years to come.

McNeil tended to follow his own path, remaining self-employed most of his life. He owned and operated McNeil’s Pub (at Forkeyville) and later Heartland Antiques on Broadway in Alton. He had a deep appreciation for art and antiques, with a knack for seeing the beauty in things some of us wrote off as junk.

Surviving are his daughter Stephanie Cheatham, her husband Michael, and their children Oliver, Landon, and Paisley, as well as his niece, Cheryl Link, niece Julie Clymer, nephew Kim Clymer, and his wife Gayle, his great-nieces Tara Link, her husband Jack Callahan, Morgan (Clymer) Hudson, her husband Dustin, and their three children, Briana Liljenberg, her fiancé Joe, and their three children, and his great-nephew Ryan Clymer and his wife Claire, as well as many other family members and loved ones.

He was preceded in death by his mother, father, brother, Alexander McNeil, and sister, May Clymer, along with many friends, notably his buddy Linker, who he would regularly toast a Stag to at his favorite local watering holes.

His daughter would like to thank all of the individuals who helped him and spent time with him, especially these last few years.

There will be a visitation from 1:00 p.m. until time of memorial service at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, March 16, 2024 at Gent Funeral Home in Alton. 

Memorials may be made to 5A’s Animal Shelter in Alton.  Online guestbook and information may be found at

Obit Provided By:
Gent Funeral Home

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