Neil Allan McEwen, 84, of Crosslake, Minnesota, passed away with his family present on Saturday, March 12, 2022. He is survived by his beloved wife Maxine (née Lysfjord), son Gregory, daughter Gretchen Felton ( Brian), grandchildren Joia, Cody and Holden, and siblings Elizabeth Deere and Ortie Kinshella. He is predeceased by his parents Lorne and Josephine McEwen, his son Garth and his siblings Doris West, Helen Erickson, Peter McEwen, Lorne McEwen and Ruth Moose.
Neil’s life and passions were deeply rooted in the people, places and values of Northwest Minnesota. Born March 19, 1937 in Humboldt, Minnesota, he attended school there before graduating from Hallock High School in 1954. Neil then took a job on the Great Northern Railroad, sparking a lifelong love life for the railroads which he continued by collecting souvenirs, traveling by train. and sharing railway stories. In 1956 Neil and Maxine married and began their 65 year journey together.
Neil attended the University of North Dakota, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and then a law degree. While serving on the editorial board of the university’s law journal, Neil wrote a scholarly article on antitrust that informed a Supreme Court ruling on an impending railroad merger.
Neil served the people of Northwest Minnesota through zealous advocacy and dedicated community service. He forged a legal career by helping others overcome challenges, right injustices and achieve prosperity. For over 30 years, Neil built and operated an extensive law practice in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, while serving for a time as the Pennington County District Attorney. Throughout this time, Neil has held positions of leadership and influence in the area, leading the Pennington County DFL party and serving on the Church Council of Redeemer Lutheran Church, the Thief River Falls Public Library Board and of the Thief River Falls Lions Club. Neil’s legacy as a lawyer and community leader lies in the lives he improved through generosity, determination, humility and an unwavering sense of right and wrong.
Neil was passionate and skilled in sports, especially curling and golf. He has successfully competed in tournaments and tournaments throughout Northwestern Minnesota and beyond. In retirement, he continued to find joy on the course, whether as a player or a spectator.
At the center of Neil’s life, however, were his family and friends. He was a caring son and brother, supportive husband, devoted father, adoring grandparent and loyal friend. Whether in Thief River Falls, Crosslake, Mt. Dora, Florida or Sun Lakes, Arizona, the McEwen home has always been open to Neil and Maxine’s large circle of friends and family. After Neil’s early retirement, the couple enjoyed more than 25 years to pursue their common interests together. They have traveled extensively, both in the United States in motorhomes and on the European continent with extended stays in Sweden and Switzerland. Neil and Maxine treasured close friendships and loved nothing better than to hop in the car to drive around and visit some of the many friends they had acquired over the years. With Maxine, Neil made it a priority to be present in the lives of those he loved, and his impact on them was far greater than he could have ever known.
A memorial service will be held May 11, 2022 at Crosslake Lutheran Church. There will be a gathering of family and friends at 12:00 p.m., and the service will begin at 1:00 p.m., followed by lunch. A livestream of the service will be shared on www.crosslakelutheran.com. Memorial contributions may be made to Crosslake Lutheran Church, Crosslake, Minnesota.
Arrangements are entrusted to the Brenny Family Funeral Chapel, Crosslake.