Neil grew up in Haldimand County – the second of 5 children. He had an older sister Ruth and a younger sister, Judy. He and his brothers, Ron, and George had the typical antics of three boys growing up close together. With them, he developed an interest in harness horse racing which would eventually lead him to new directions and opportunities.
Neil and Irene met in the Haldimand Norfolk area and married in 1959. As a couple with three young children, Cheryl, Scott, and Leslie, they surprised everyone and moved north to Bruce County, the snow belt, in the middle of February 1968. They were ready to start a new adventure farming and training standardbred horses with Clements Farms at R.R. #2 Dobbinton. Neil loved this work and the experiences with harness horse racing, and he eventually owned and drove his own horses. Horse racing excitement was something that the entire family enjoyed and brought many treasured family memories and experiences. Neil worked for Clements farms for 40 years, but proudly noted after he kept helping in his retirement, that he fixed those fences for 50 years in total! He was a reliable, hard worker who took pride in his family and in a job well done – whether that was building a fence, ploughing a field, or keeping a large, beautiful, perfectly cut, dandelion-free lawn.
Neil loved to talk and tell stories and would talk to almost anyone at any time. Favourite topics were weather facts and the Montreal Canadiens. As a lifelong fan he boasted about their victories, and he loved to remind those poor Toronto Maple Leaf fans about the number of Stanley cups Montreal had won and how long since Toronto’s last.
Neil was also actively involved in the curling communities in Tara, Chesley, and Paisley and traveled to competitive bonspiels all over Ontario. He could remember almost all his shots (good and bad) and when he eventually put up his broom, he enjoyed calling curling shots while watching at home with Irene.
The 1984 farm death of Scott, who at the age of 22 had chosen to farm with his dad for the summer before his last year of university, hurt. Neil experienced the deep unimaginable loss that comes with the death of a child. It changed his life but with time and the love and support of Irene, Cheryl, and Leslie, he and Irene built new interests to add to curling – including karate, lawn bowling, making, and selling apple pies to support the Grade 8 Ottawa trip at Arran Tara school (one year over 730 pies), and together they danced beautifully for years. He and Irene practiced dance steps at home, drove all over midwestern Ontario to dance, and taught classes, including at their grandchildren’s schools of Arran Tara and Sullivan.
His grandchildren held a special place for him – Jeremy, Ashley, Graham, and Ryan. He did not shower them with hugs, but he was there at their events, whether that was swimming, gymnastics, baseball, hockey, or graduations…talking to everyone but quietly proud. Of course, he offered his lawn planting and maintenance skills (sometimes he just had to cut it himself, so it was done right) whenever they needed that as well.
Neil was lucky. He got to complete his “bucket list” and share it with Irene. This included seeing a Montreal Canadiens and Montreal Expos game live in Montreal, stepping on Four Corners in the United States (where the four states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet), dancing at Billibobs in Texas, and visiting Dodge City, (Kansas). In 2018 his first great-grandchild was born and since then he has been able to enjoy the activity, laughter, and love that comes with now 6 great-grandchildren, Leo, Grace, Olivia, Bree, Boone, and William. To them he was their “cookie monster” and he has passed on his love of chocolate and sugar to every generation. Chocolate bars, fudge, tootsie rolls, jujubes, chocolate almonds, no-bake oatmeal cookies, Bridge mixture, Hallowe’en kisses, and Christmas creams, were just a few of his favourites.
Neil loved these songs and lyrics. From George Strait,
Life is not the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away.
From John Michael Montgomery
Life is a Dance, you learn as you go, sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow, don’t worry about what you don’t know, life’s a dance, you learn as you go.
Enjoy the dance and have some chocolate along the way!
Neil passed away at home with Irene, his loving wife of 64 years by his side on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, in his 83rd year.
Beloved husband of Irene (Meade). Loving father of Cheryl (Gary) Morris of R.R. #2 Tara and Leslie (Gordon) Hastie of R.R. #3 Elmwood. Cherished Papa of Jeremy (Jessica) Morris, Ashley (Kiefer) Lindsay, Graham (Adrianna) Hastie, and Ryan Hastie and great-grandfather of Grace, Olivia, and William Morris; Leo and Bree Lindsay, and Boone Hastie. Neil will be dearly missed by his brother Ronald (Ruth) Bartlett of Ingersoll, sister Judy (Bob) Bristo of Hamilton, and the entire Meade family. He was predeceased by his son Scott (1984), brother George (Marj) Bartlett, sister Ruth (Bob) LaHaye, and his parents Alvin and Audrey (Saunders) Bartlett.
The family would like to extend their deepest appreciation to Dr. H. Tang of the Chesley Medical Clinic for his incredibly patient, sensitive, and supportive care.
Private family services will be held with inurnment to follow in Hillcrest Cemetery, Tara.
In lieu of flowers, the Bartlett family would appreciate donations to The Scott Bartlett Memorial Fund (please make cheques payable to McMaster University) as expressions of sympathy.