Neil Russell Guard died quietly on Friday morning, October 8, 2021, after a 5-month journey through cancer. He faced this adventure with courage, optimism, humor and with his wife, Nancy Leslie Guard as his partner on the journey.
Throughout his adventure, when asked what they could do for him, Neil's answer was always, "Stay connected to the people in your life and love the people you are connected to." This is his final gift of wisdom, learned in his many adventures in life.
Neil was born March 12, 1953, in Niskayuna, NY, the first of the 14 cities where he would live. Neil attended many schools with the moves, but spent most of high school in Houghton, MI, where he played sports, did well in school and enjoyed exploring nature (and the copper mines) in the Upper Peninsula. He graduated from Coronado High School in El Paso, TX.
He graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a BS in Math and Physics, and where his father was the Dean of Engineering. His parents were Dr. Ray W. Guard and Louise Edwina Guard-Ramirez. He is survived by his wife Nancy and by his daughter, Arthenaea Westwood-Perkins, and her son. Also, by his four siblings, Daniel (Susan) of El Paso, TX; Randall (Peg) of Little Rock, AR; Alan (Molly) of Anna, TX; and Celia, Dallas, TX. He had seven nieces and nephews Jeffrey, Michael, Caitlin, Samantha, Brian, Ava, and Breanna. He also married into five more, Nora, Kate, Christopher, Tom, and Rob. His favorite nickname from them was 'Uncle Genius.'
After 29 years of programming in five cities, and never ceasing to learn new skills and knowledge, Neil found his passion in teaching. He was an amazing teacher, who in 2007 defined his life's purpose intentionally. "My purpose in life is to call forth and cultivate a passion for learning." He loved teaching, he loved his students, and he loved his connections with them. In an interview before his death he said, "Teaching is just who I am. It's not a job, it's who I am."
Neil was always grateful for the students who shared their hopes and dreams, fears, and accomplishments with him. Allowing him to contribute his philosophy, knowledge, sense of humor, caring and enthusiasm in the classroom, at athletics and when chaperoning many dances was the joy of teaching.
Neil also appreciated the teachers, staff, and administrators at Edison, for their team approach to teaching and supporting the success of the students. And the creation of the garden classroom where learning and nature coexist is the confluence of what was important to him.
No description of Neil would be complete without mention of his favorite other passion, bass fishing. He loved to tournament bass fish, enjoying the conversations with club members and the peaceful nature while trolling for bass on the lakes in Oklahoma. He said it was the best training for teaching he ever had.
Finally, what mattered most to Neil was what he said to so many is to stay connected to the people in your life and love the people you are connected to.
Edison High School is building an outdoor classroom and monarch waystation and will dedicated it to Neil. If so inclined, donation to support this classroom was his wish. These may be directed to:
Mr. Clay Vinyard, Principal
Thomas Edison Preparatory School
2906 East 41st Street
Tulsa, OK 74105
Arrangements have been entrusted to Schaudt Funeral Service. Friends & family may leave condolences and kind words of comfort at www.schaudtfuneralservice.com