Skip to content

Jane Harris McNeil

Jane Harris McNeil passed away peacefully at her home. She was 78 years old.
She was born in her grandmother’s house in Moultrie County, IL to Floyd L. Harris and Lula Beatrice (Graven) Harris. She was the youngest of nine children and grew up in Tuscola, Il. She graduated from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and received her master’s degree from SIU Edwardsville. She is survived by her husband of forty-one-years James Kent McNeil and two stepdaughters Stephanie Lynn Simon of Savannah, GA and Rebecca Jean Hilinski of Apopka, FL. She also has twenty-eight nieces and nephews.
After graduating from SIU Carbondale, She taught accounting in senior high schools in and around St. Louis for five years. In the early 1970s, she moved to Nashville, TN and went into commercial banking where she became the first female commercial lending officer in the state. She moved back to St. Louis in 1979 and continued in commercial banking with Mercantile Bank and met Kent at banking school in 1980 and married a year later. She later became the Chief Credit Officer of the mortgage banking division of Prudential Insurance, which was based in St. Louis. At the time it was the second largest mortgage banking operation in the country.
In the early 90s, when Prudential sold their mortgage company, and Kent’s bank was sold, they became international banking and financial consultants. She worked on USAID and World Bank projects in Bosnia for five years. That led to projects with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Slovenia. Each project focused on economic development in countries in transition from communism/socialism to market economies and capitalism. She helped business owners and managers of private enterprises prepare financial statements and reports that would enable them to manage their businesses profitably and how to effectively represent their businesses as a credible applicant for a loan from a commercial bank. She also trained local bankers to evaluate their business’ financial statements in making sound lending decisions. Through her work she helped the development and expansion of a free economy in emerging economies.
While living and working out of the country for 20 years in places such as Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Cyprus, Egypt and Kosovo, she and Kent traveled extensively in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Europe. They have been to 70 countries either for work or pleasure.
She was always looking to make a difference such as in Uzbekistan. She was one of a few expatriate women who were apprised of deplorable conditions at a state-run orphanage. They took over a wing of that orphanage the housed 100 bedridden children who were dying at a rate of one a week. They had only a few attendants and none over the weekends. The group raised over $250,000 to hire more workers and health care aides, replaced rotten floors, threw out the soiled and broken beds and provided new ones and hired a doctor. The children had full time care and teachers were hired to provide for their education. Within months no children were dying. They were well nourished, and none were confined to bed.
During those twenty years she always maintained their home in St. Louis to which they would return for three weeks over Christmas. Upon retiring in 2013, she returned to activities in her church where she became the co-treasurer with her husband. She also became very active with the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer program and chaired various projects including Gypsy Caravan.
Jane has had many achievements throughout her active life. These were recognized in September 2021, when she was inducted into her high school’s hall of fame. She was honored in their homecoming parade and addressed the current student body on how they too can have adventures if they are willing to seek and take full advantage of opportunities.
Services: A visitation will be held on Friday, March 18, 2022 at Lupton Chapel, 7233 Delmar Blvd., University City. The funeral service will be held at 10:00 AM at Grace United Methodist Church at 6199 Waterman Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63112. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, info@slso.org. Please visit Lupton Chapel’s website (www.luptonchapel.com) for further information.

Leave a Comment