Neil Alan Ullery, 68, of Lee’s Summit, Mo. passed away peacefully Friday, March 22, 2024, at home. Never one to give in easily, Neil fought off cancer for 17 years, and not wanting sympathy or attention, he kept his chin up and refused to let cancer take away his hope. 

Left to grieve his passing are his wife of 31 years, Carol, and a son Justin Burch (Meghan) and three grandchildren, Harper, Joey and Mickey; Parents Glen and Mary Jane Ullery; sisters Glenda Prier and Beth Spencer, all of Lee’s Summit; Father-in-law, Bill Felts, Springfield, Mo, Brother-in-Law, Dan Felts (Joanna), Fresno CA; Sisters-in-law, Janice Wilken (Jeffrey), Ottawa, KS and Angie Enlow (Tim), Springfield, Mo, as well as numerous nephews, nieces, his Fire Service Family and a host of friends. Preceding him in death was his mother-in-law, Beatrice Felts and brother-in-law, Ralph Prier.

Besides spending time with his granddaughters whom he adored beyond anything or anyone, Neil’s passions throughout life were cars, boats, music and the fire service. He loved his Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals and watching Nascar or auto racing of any kind. 

Neil retired as an Assistant Fire Chief in 2014 after a successful 26 years with the Lee’s Summit Fire Department, where he found his true calling to service. He began his career as a dispatcher in 1988, then moved to firefighter the following year. He was promoted through all the ranks – his favorite he achieved in 2000 as a Captain – then promoted to Battalion Chief and finally Assistant Chief in 2009. Before moving into his administrative roles, Neil was active in the Firefighters Union Local 2195, serving as President.

After his retirement, Neil continued to serve the citizens of Lee’s Summit, appointed by the Mayor to the city’s Public Safety Advisory Committee. He served 7 years, and was committee chair before his health forced him to resign in 2023.

That 26-year fire department career allowed Neil to serve the citizens of Lee’s Summit with integrity and dedication using his natural leadership skills and talents, and it was also the source of many friendships. Neil loved his friends and loved to have fun. His circle of friends was wide, including those with whom he maintained relationships since high school, and those whose path he crossed following his passion for cars.

Neil was born Feb. 15, 1956 in Harrisonville, Mo spending his first years of life growing up in Freeman, Lee’s Summit and Warsaw, Missouri. The start of an incredibly strong work ethic, Neil ‘worked’ his first job as a child when he walked to his dad’s Standard Gas Station in Freeman, Missouri, where he pumped gas, then used a step-stool to reach and wash customers’ windshields. He moved on to mowing lawns that earned him money for a bicycle and to pay for Scout Camp and other boyhood necessities, then he worked with his Granddad maintaining his rental properties.

During high school, Neil worked at the A&P store in Lee’s Summit earning the money to keep his cars  on the road – he had several, usually show-car shiny and fast. His first one, a ‘55 Chevy Bel Air, painted black, offered more speed than needed, which led to a few groundings from his Highway Patrol Trooper dad. He never did get past that need for speed and many years later assumed part of his father-figure duties was to share the fun with Justin, taking him out on the highway, stepping heavily on the gas pedal, and cutting a few donuts on neighborhood streets. Neil loved to share the fun, but also took seriously his role as a father instilling his values of honesty, integrity and working for what you get. Those traits, he credited to his dad.

After high school,  Neil worked for a decade in auto sales including Cantrell Pontiac and Dave Cross Motors, while also doing side gigs as a DJ before landing the career in the Fire Department.

It was only fitting, Neil met his wife Carol in 1990 when her car left her stranded on the road, and Neil traded a car repair job for a home cooked meal. That began the love story. Two years later they were married and the journey began that took them down many roads, including thousands of miles across the highways of the U.S. Driving the Mustang around the country as a part of  several Hot Rod Power Tours, a Cruising the Coast event, and a bucket-list destination trip to Niagara Falls.

In his younger years, Neil prided himself in building car and boat stereo systems that made listening to music feel like a live concert. Neil put that same kind of meticulous skill and care into his cars from the time he was 16 throughout adulthood, maintaining several show-stopping and award-winning cars. His pride:  the Ullery Edition of a modified black 2008 Mustang GT.

Neil had a heart for helping those who were trying to learn and better themselves in the fire service or medical field, and always looked to serve as a mentor or source of help – even in death. He donated his body to medical research and education. 

Neil is being honored this week at a private family gathering. Following his wishes, a Celebration of his Life is being planned for May 11, when friends and family can gather to tell Fire Department stories, show off their cool cars and jam to some of Neil’s favorites songs. 

Memorial donations in honor of Neil can be made to Lee’s Summit Firefighters Charities with the LS Firefighters Association Local 2195 for the Brian Pottberg Memorial Firefighter Golf Tournament and Scholarship Fund. 

Our gratitude is extended to Dr. Rahul Parikh at KU Med and Dr. Jacob Smeltzer at St. Luke’s East for guiding his cancer care and offering him hope throughout his journey. A special thanks to our Ascend Hospice Team: Alli, Cassandra and especially his Nurse, Mel.

Show Comments