Betty Jane (Podhajsky) McNeal

Betty Jane (Podhajsky) McNeal

Betty Jane (Podhajsky) McNeal

Iowa City

Betty Jane (Podhajsky) McNeal flew up to heaven on the wings of angels on May 29, 2024. She entered this world during a snowstorm in a little town named Clutier, Iowa. Betty was born on January 31, 1933 to Bessie A. (Hach) Podhajsky and Fred J. Podhajsky.

At the age of two Betty’s mother died and she and her two brothers, Eugene and Richard, were all separated to live with different family members. Betty went to live on a farm and be raised by her uncle J.J. Podhajsky and his wife Agnes. She grew up attending the same newly built one-room schoolhouse as her brother Eugene. Her Uncle Jim would sometimes take her to school in a horse drawn sleigh. Richard was with grandma “Ma” Hach in Clutier. Often Betty would be at the tavern her grandmother managed or at the dance hall in Cluiter. We suspect this is where she acquired her fun-loving spirit. Betty loved living on the farm and helping with the animals. She learned to drive a tractor at age seven but that was a “secret.”

At age sixteen Betty attended a Youth Center Dance in Traer. Her girlfriend Sarge told her Duane McNeal wanted to dance with her. When Betty saw his perfectly pressed button-down white shirt and his perfect ducktail on the back of his head the rest was history. This story proved her high standards and quest of perfectionism. Duane became her dance partner for life and they married on November 12, 1949. That marriage was predicted to last only six months, but they recently celebrated 74 years of marriage. They became parents to Doreen, Kim, Heather and Tyler.

Betty’s education has never stopped and she was known as an omnivorous reader. Her home exhibits an extensive library. Betty also became a real estate salesperson and managed the office with her husband. She attended classes for healing touch, dowsing, and three levels of Reiki. Much knowledge was gleamed from the 7 Continent Dowsers meetings in Chicago. Betty was an accomplished seamstress and a 4H leader for a while. She sewed many draperies, outfits, formal gowns, including designing Heather’s Miss Tama County gown. In Betty’s early twenties she designed and built a beautiful ranch house on the farm where she was raised. In the summer she would garden and harvest 65 quarts of black raspberries—a family favorite. You could find fabulous plum trees, many hostas and the unique ground cherries in her garden.

Betty was known for her fondness of her Czech heritage and it was exemplified in her baking of the ethnic breads, bismarks and kolaches. Along with the Czech Polka music she enjoyed.

One of her favorite pastimes was traveling to various cities in Iowa to dance to the music of big-name bands. One of the locations was the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa where they stayed at a friend’s cottage and sailed. She joined friends attending the theater, bridge clubs and the annual eggnog gathering at Christmas with their families.

Betty’s greatest passion was being a mother and grandmother which led to full-time daycare for two of her grandchildren. She loved to attend her children’s and grandchildren’s sporting events, dance competitions and recitals. Betty’s nurturing encompassed her many cats and dogs she raised including an Afghan Hound and a Ragdoll cat.

Betty’s favorite quote to share was “Walk with God.” She is survived by her husband Duane McNeal and brother Richard Mason. Her children Kim (Malissa) McNeal and Heather (Nile) Fay. Her grandchildren Krissa (John) Sindt, Andrea (David) Crowe, Ben, Mark and Jeff McNeal, Heidi, Shaina, Tyler and Hailey (Dominic Waikel) Fay. And great-grandchildren Kobe & Marina, Nora & Kiera, Eboni, Jayla, Lawton, Torriana, Flex, Dexter, many nieces and nephews and her beloved cat, Willow.

She is preceded in death by her parents, her uncle & aunt that raised her, her brother Eugene Podhajsky, her daughter Doreen McNeal, her son Tyler McNeal, great-granddaughter Nylah Crawford and many aunts, uncles, and a niece & nephew.

Visitation will be June 11 at First Presbyterian Church in Iowa City from 12:00-2:00 pm with the funeral to follow at 2:00 pm. Memorials may be directed to Iowa City Hospice. To share a thought or condolence, please visit Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service website at

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