Karla Neely


The Neely Family of Madison County mourn the passing of Karla Ann Zieba Neely, who was the beloved wife of Michael L. Neely and daughter-in-law of retired general and former Madison County Judge Cecil Neely and Margie Lynn Hardy Neely. Karla passed away in Austin on Dec. 20, 2018.

Karla was born on April 8, 1954, in Lorain County, Ohio, to Joseph Zieba, a retired judge, and Ella Stone, a very beautiful fashion model. She grew up in a home with four sisters — Joellen, Spring, Lorraine and Linda. At the age of 4, Karla saw a landscape that was being painted on a wall of her family home by the renowned artist Wilhelm Kuhn. This inspired Karla to become an artist and she was able to hone and enjoy her craft for the next 60 years of her life.

She pursued a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in painting and sculpture at the University of Ohio, graduating summa cum laude. She created her artwork in a variety of media, moving seamlessly between oil, acrylic, pen and ink, watercolor, and stone. She exhibited her work throughout the Houston and Galveston area.

In June of 1985, Karla married Michael in Madisonville. Four years later, Karla and Mike welcomed their son, Michael Ryan Neely, to the family. She was a wonderful, creative wife who brought great joy to her husband, Mike, and her son, Ryan. She was devoted to her husband’s career as an attorney and later, to her son’s career as an actor and producer, reading constantly about ways to help and involving herself in every detail. A lifelong learner, her interests included the study of the church from its early beginnings through medieval times, philosophy, classical music, art history and political theory. She was an avid hiker and loved being outdoors in nature. She also loved to travel and always spoke about the perfect trip she took with her husband and son to the historic castles and abbeys in Scotland and England, including Lindisfarne, the holy island.

Karla saw beauty in everything and later in life she took to the camera with a keen eye for the art in nature. She continued her art in her family and always said that her son was her greatest work of art. She cherished every moment she spent with her son and husband — holding on to every piece of paper, funny text, cartoon, wine bottle, or really anything at all that represented a good memory. Among her favorite activities were laughing hysterically with her sister, Joellen, and watching the snow fall on Christmas Day in Ohio.

Karla is preceded in death by her parents and her parents-in-law. She is survived by her husband of 33 years, Michael; her son, Ryan; her sisters, Joellen Kessler, Spring Frey, Lorraine Zieba and Linda Gerek; and many nieces and nephews.

Serving as pallbearers are Russell Neely, Jim Standley, Joey Smith, Jay Hardy, Jacob Neely and Logan Prati.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, at Day Funeral Home Chapel in Madisonville, with the Rev. Jim Jackson officiating. A visitation will begin at 10 a.m. prior to the service. Burial will follow at Madisonville City Cemetery.