Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Mike Gainor
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Deputy Neel passes away after entering hospice


January 16, 2020

Mike Gainor

The family of Ben Neel said farewell on the evening of Jan. 8, soon after the longtime Pine County deputy and K9 officer went into hospice care.

Neel, 37, had been in a coma since early December, after he suffered a massive stroke during surgery to remove one of two brain tumors.

Neel was an organ donor, and his wife, Jennifer, said that she was told the age and gender of the recipients, and a ceremony was held at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in honor of her husband's gifts.

"Ben has a servant's heart and he has done that to the very end," she said. "Well done, my good and faithful one."

At the Jan. 8 meeting of the Pine City Council, Mayor Carl Pederson offered the sympathy and support of the Pine City community to Neel's family and co-workers. Council Member Steve Ovick, former chief deputy of Pine County, remembered hiring Neel, and honored him as one of the very best officers in Pine County law enforcement .

The Pine County Sheriff's Office posted photos of Neel on their Facebook page on Jan. 9.

"To say our office is sad is an understatement," they wrote. "Deputy Neel was a great deputy and man overall. He was everyone's best friend. This isn't goodbye, we will see you again. We love you Benny."

The Pine County Attorney's Office posted a similar message.

"We are heartbroken," they wrote. "Deputy Neel was a joy to work with and always a professional. The world is less without him; he will be sorely missed. Please say a prayer for his family, and his law enforcement family."

Dozens of law enforcement, fire and ambulance vehicles joined a motorcade on Jan. 9 to escort Neel's remains to Swanson Funeral Home in Pine City, and many town residents and well-wishers came out to offer their support.

Pastor Joel Preston will officiate funeral services for Neel at noon on Saturday at the Hinckley/Finlayson High School Auditorium Visitation and reviewal is planned from 4-8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17 at the Swanson Funeral Chapel in Pine City and also one hour prior to the service at the high school auditorium. The interment will take place in Hilltop Cemetery in Pine City.

A GoFundMe page ( has been set up for the family of Deputy Ben Neel. So far, more than 750 people have donated over $40,000 to support Neel's family.

A fund has also been set up at Frandsen Bank and Trust:

Frandsen Bank and Trust

Neel Family Fund

560 3rd Ave SE

Pine City, MN 55063


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