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Obituary of Colonel Robert
The Lawton Constitution,
Wed. Dec. 22, 1915
Vol. XV No. 117
Colonel Robert Neff Dies of Auto-Toxaemia
Comedian, Jurist, Politician, Newspaper Man dies at Southwestern Hospital Tuesday Afternoon
By Rev. T.J. Irwin
Col. Robert A. Neff, noted comedian, a prominent jurist, politician an former newspaper man, died at the Southwestern Hospital Tuesday afternoon at three o'clock of acute terminal auto-toxaemia. Lawton is the home of the Neff Theatre Company. It has been playing in Texas during the autumn months, where the Colonel took sick six weeks ago, in their private coaches, and the colonel entered the hospital for treatment under the care of his family physician, Dr. F.W. Hammond, and all that science and care and love could do was done for him. Mrs. Neff and daughters Velma and Aline were at his side when he passed away.
Robert A. Neff was born in Bloomington, Ill., May 22, 1858. The writer of this little sketch became aquainted with him in 1886 in Wichita, KS where he grew to manhood and became a noted comedian. The writer was young, but remembers those days mighty well when young "Bob" Neff and a Mr. Heathcote formed a strong company and played the leading Kansas towns. One of the bills put on was "The Queens Evidence," Mr. Neff taking the leading part.
He gave up the drama for a number of years and devoted himself to the study of law, was admitted to the bar, and ranked high in this profession. He came to Oklahoma at the opening of the Cherokee Strip in 1893 and settled in Kay County, which office he held for four years, ranking high as jurist. He was elected as a delegate to congress against Bird McGuire by a large majority, but was counted out because elected on the Democratic-Populist fusion ticket. He established and edited several leading Oklahoma daily newspapers, one being The Blackwell Sun. He came to Lawton in 1904 and was associated with T.M. Bixby as editor of the Lawton Democrat, now the Lawton Constitution, on which he wielded "the pen of a ready writer " for a number of years. He ran against ____ A. Fain a close race for county attorney of Comanche County.
But the ruling passion of his life was his love of the drama, so a ____ ____ ago he organized The Neff Theatre Company in Lawton and went on the road again and made acting his chosen profession. He played in all the principal cities and the country, especially to very large appreciative houses in Lawton, Oklahoma, generally. His long ___ devoted to the drama, coupled with decided natural ability, made Neff a prime favorite with his audiences in each of his roles. Two years ago he purchased two private cars in which the company has since made its palatial home on wheels and which now stand on the Rock Island track in this city. Col. Neff owns a farm and beautiful country residence two miles south of Lawton. Here he took a needed rest once every year. He loved Lawton, and here he laid down his life, and will be laid to rest in Lawton cemetery.
The funeral services will be held Thursday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock from the Presbyterian church, by the Rev. T. J. Irwin.
Col. Neff always gave good, clean, performances, supported by a strong company made up mostly from his own family all of whom are lovers of high-class drama. He never played a whiskey town, nor allowed a drinking man to be connected with the company. Speaking from long personal and intimate acquaintance, Robert A. Neff was a unique character, and a noble Christian man, a prominent and enthusiastic Mason and Odd Fellow who followed the Golden Rule in his daily life. He was a faithful, tender and affectionate husband, and a loving and kind father, and as true a friend as ever lived. Such, in brief our line, the unadorned facts of the career of Robert A. Neff. They illustrate a character rounded, integral and complete. His life was gentle; and the elements so mix'd in him that Nature might stand up and say to the world, "This was a man."