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Bill Neal (Texas)

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William Overton "Bill" Neal, IV

(Texas reporter, historian, author, rancher, and district attorney)

Bill Neal of TX.jpg

Born January 31, 1936
Hardeman County, Texas
Died December 23, 2021
(aged 85)
Abilene, Texas

Resting place:
Quanah Memorial Park Cemetery

Political Party Republican[1]
Spouse Gayle Neal (not first wife)

Three children:
Monte Mark Neal
Max McCaleb Nea
Virginia Kay Neal Covarrubia
Two stepdaughters

Religion Christian

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Unspecified infantry officer
Battles/wars Cold War
Not to be confused with former Texas state historian John William "Bill" O'Neal

William Overton Neal, IV, known as Bill Neal (January 31, 1936 – December 23, 2021), was a journalist, for two daily newspapers who became a district attorney in two judicial districts.[2]


Neal was born in Quanah (named for the Comanche Indian chief) in Hardeman County, Texas, to William Overton "Boots" Neal, III (1901-1979), and the former Katharine May Barnes (1903-1976). He graduated in 1953 from Quanah High School; five years later, from the Southern Baptist-affiliated Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, at which he was known for student pranks.[2]. Abilene is 138 miles south of Quanah.


After service as an infantry office in the United States Army, he worked as a reporter, first, for the Abilene Reporter-News and then for the Amarillo Globe-News in Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. In 1961, he enrolled in law school at the University of Texas in Austin, after talking the admissions office into letting him start classes without taking the proper test. He graduated first in his class in 1964 He was the comment editor for The Texas Law Review. For the first year after law school, he was a briefing attorney for then Justice Ruel Carlile Walker[2] (1910-1998) of the Texas Supreme Court [3]

In 1965, he returned to Quanah to practice law. Three years later in 1968, he was elected District Attorney for the 46th Judicial District of Texas which includes Wilbarger, Hardeman, and Foard counties. After two terms as DA, he opened a private law office with an emphasis on criminal defense. In 1992, he was elected district attorney again, this time for the 50th Judicial District composed of Baylor, Knox, Cottle, and King counties. He served in the 50th District for three terms. He was considered one of the very best trial attorneys in northwest Texas before his retirement from law in 2004.[2]

Personal life

Neal and his wife, Gayla, resided in Abilene; he also spent time at his ranch, his favorite place to be, which he also called home, south of Quanah, near the popular Medicine Mounds about which he grew up. He took great satisfaction in being a landowner.[2]

Neal died in Abilene a month shy of his eighty-sixth birthday. In addition to his wife, he was survived by two sons and a daughter, Monte Mark Neal (Lenore) and Max McCaleb Neal, and Virginia Kay Neal Covarrubia (David), all of Austin. He also had two step-daughters Nicole Todd (Charles) of Fate in Rockwall County, Texas, and Joy Chhay (Alex) of Leander, north of Austin. Pastor Dustin Hamby of Cornerstone Church in Quanah officiated at the graveside services at Quanah Memorial Park Cemetery.[2].

Neal's family urged memorials to two of his favorite organizations, the Hardman County Historical Museum in Quanah and the Downtown Medicine Mound Museum near Quanah.[2]


A skilled storyteller, Neal wrote several books covering colorful stories of the history of law and lawlessness of the West Texas frontier, many of which grew from his time researching old records in the basements of numerous courthouses[2]. He was a member of the West Texas Historical Association, based in Lubbock. His principal works include:

  • The Last Frontier: The Story of Hardeman County (1966)[4]
  • Vengeance Is Mine: The Scandalous Love Triangle That Triggered the Boyse-Sneed Feud (2004)[5]
  • Getting Away with Murder on the Texas Frontier: Notorious Killings and Celebrated Trials (2006)[6]
  • Skullduggery, Secrets, and Murders: The 1894 Wells Fargo Scam that Backfired (2015)[7]
  • Sex, Murder, and the Unwritten Law: Courting Judicial Mayhem, Texas Style (2016)[8]


  1. Bill Neal. Retrieved on January 7, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Bill Neal obituary. Abilene Reporter-News (December 27, 2021). Retrieved on January 7, 2022.
  3. Justices of Texas (1836-1986). Retrieved on January 7, 2022.
  4. The Last Frontier: The Story of Hardeman County. Retrieved on January 7, 2022. 
  5. Vengeance is Mine. Retrieved on January 7, 2022. 
  6. Getting Away with Murder on the Texas Frontier. Retrieved on January 7, 2022. 
  7. Skullduggery, Secrets and Murders. Retrieved on January 7, 2022.
  8. Sex, Murder, and the UnwrittenLaw. Retrieved on January 7, 2022.