Bill Neely was born in Overton County, Tennessee. He was brought to Crossville, Tennessee with his parents in 1934 at the age of 2-years old.
He graduated Cumberland County High School in 1950 where he played the only school sports available, basketball and football. Football was his best and favorite sport in which he made all-conference in the Upper Cumberland Conference his senior year.
After high school, in the fall of 1950, he enrolled in Tennessee Tech majoring in business, an act he still does not understand since he never had any interest it that field. (His interest had always been in science or engineering.) He played on the football team and won all intramural table tennis tournaments while there. After collegiate starts and stops, travels, marriage, and almost immediately (1-month and 2-days later, May 6, 1953) was drafted into the military. He ended up at Camp (now Fort) Gordon, Georgia where he was trained as an infantryman and then sent to Military Police School. He was later sent to a 9-week leadership school. By this time the hostilities in Korea had ended and he spent the remainder of his tour as desk sergeant in the Town Patrol at Newport News, Virginia.
Upon discharge in February 7, 1955, Bill went to Akron, Ohio where he enrolled in the University of Akron in the School of Engineering and played on the Junior Varsity basketball team.
In January of 1956, he returned to Tennessee Tech and resumed his pursuit of Civil Engineering. He graduated in December of 1958 with a BS degree in Civil Engineering and took a position with a consulting engineering firm designing intestate highways in the Memphis, Tennessee area.
In the spring of 1960 he started work with the Tennessee Valley Authority designing hydro and fossil power generating facilities and began work on a Masters degree. In the fall of 1962, he left the TVA and went to work with an aerospace company, Brown Engineering, in Huntsville, Alabama he spent 5-years in ground support equipment primarily on the Saturn/Apollo Program, but some work was also done on Saturn I and Saturn IB. During this time he continued his work on his Masters degree by commuting back and forth to Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1965 he was awarded the MS from the University of Tennessee.
During the time at Brown Engineering, he obtained his Masters degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Engineering Mechanics.
After three short stints as Manufacturing Director at SPACO, a small manufacturing company in Huntsville, the General Electric Aircraft Engineering Group in Evandale, Ohio, and then back to Huntsville where he initiated and managed their program for seismic testing for nuclear power plant equipment with Wyle Laboratories.
Nuclear Power was big at this time and he was again recruited away by the TVA in the spring of 1973. He retired in 1992 but ended up working for another couple of years at two small engineering companies in Knoxville and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
In 1994 he resumed playing table tennis after a 31-year layoff. He played on a regular basis since then. During this period he has had two knee replacements, three rotator cuff surgeries and one spinal surgery to fuse three vertebrae.
During the entire period after graduation from high school, he was an active player in basketball leagues wherever he was located. He played in league games 2-weeks before having both knees replaced. This lifetime of activity, undoubtedly, was the cause for all of his surgeries, but he would not change a thing.
He has been President of the Knoxville Table Tennis Club for about 10-years. The first few hears were uneventful and consisted of wondering, each club night, if there would be enough players to bother opening for play. Sometimes, no players would show up. The Club, with no money, had no resources other than a few old tables, hardly worth playing on. The playing venue was located in an out-of-the-way venue from which the Club was eventually evicted. Obtaining a new place to play was very difficult. One was finally found, a small facility, the Phyllis Wheatly YWCA in East Knoxville. The eviction was the best single event ever happening to them.
Bill worked to grow the Knoxville Table Tennis Club from a rag-tag group of a few players, at the previous location, into a USATT Club of The Month. He designed a club shirt, which is known far and wide and has been purchased by players from as far away as California and Hawaii. More than 400- shirts of about twenty different colors have been produced since the original design, which is still the design today
He facilitated the purchase of 8-tournament-grade tables and now conducts three 2-strar tournaments each year, for a total of fifteen since moving to the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA.
Since 1994, he has won more than 190-awards, medals, trophies, and plaques. He has won his age group in District, State, National, International, and world events multiple times.
Bill is currently working with Newgy Industries to make table tennis available to players and non-players across the state of Tennessee. He shares the vision of Mr. Joseph Newgarden that, for many reasons, table tennis should be available to every person in America. The way to do this is to begin in the schools. They both are dedicated and working to that end by encouraging and developing table tennis programs in many schools throughout the state.