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Neil Speckeen, age 79, of Ortonville, MN, passed away on March 4, 2021, at his home.
A memorial service or Neill will be held at a later date.
Neil Dean Speckeen was born in Ortonville, MN, on October 30, 1941, to parents: Harry and Dorothy (Marsh) Speckeen. He was baptized and confirmed at First English Lutheran Church in Ortonville.
He went to work early in life at his father’s trucking company: Speckeen Transportation. His father developed a local dray line into Minnesota’s first intrastate trucking company. At first, Neil helped to load and unload freight, but as soon as he got his driver’s license, he began making freight deliveries inside a 50-mile radius of Ortonville, including South Dakota.
A member of the Class of 1959, he later joined the U.S. Navy, serving in the Pacific Ocean. Returning to Ortonville, his father and he joined with the inventor of a specialty two-way gate hinge and began manufacturing gates that allowed for free-stall farrowing pens. Neil traveled extensively over the Upper Midwest, promoting these pens that allowed sows to come and go from their beds, creating much cleaner and safer farrowing conditions.
Neil was a fun-loving prankster and often set up elaborate pranks that might unfold over several days. This attribute made him quite a popular chaperone for the First English Lutheran youth group trips to KanDahl Island in Canada. He challenged the youth to come up with a creative revenge prank that had to involve something more than just throwing him in the lake. The kids finally succeeded on an evening when creamed chipped beef on toast was on the menu…Neil was served creamed dog food on toast! He couldn’t understand how some of the kids could take second helpings of that meal because he thought it was the worst thing he’d ever tasted. He ate it all and only when the youth were convinced that he would not take more, did they admitted to what they had served him.
He opened “The Upholstery Place” in 1969 with his wife, Judy Kanten. They later divorced and he married Vicky Helm in the late 1970’s. The couple moved to Arkansas where he went back to freight delivery. Returning to Minnesota in about 1993, he went to work for Riley Tour Company, driving motorcoaches for them.
Neil is survived by his sister, Beverly Betts of Wichita, KS; and three nephews: Chad, Craig, and Clay.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, Donald, who died in infancy.
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