Obituary: Neil ‘Muskrat’ Oliver

Neil “Muskrat” Oliver, 83, of Downs, Kan., passed away on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 at Mitchell County Hospital, Beloit.
Neil, the son of Estey and Goldie (Fitzgerald) Oliver, was born on May 29, 1935, on the family farm in Reno County.
In his younger years, Neil worked on the family farm with his father. He attended Cheney High School and graduated in 1953. Neil joined the United States Air National Guard in 1958 and completed basic training in San Antonio, Texas. He was honorably discharged in 1964 in Hutchinson.
Neil married Dorothy Ravenstein on Oct. 10, 1958. From this union they were blessed with four children, Sandie, Dean, Lee and Rex. They later divorced.
In 1965, Neil moved to north-central Kansas, where he began farming. Neil later married June Angell on June 1, 1973 in Downs. From this union they were blessed with a son, Kent. This blended family of seven worked together on their family farm.
In addition to farming, in 1974, Neil established North Central Kansas (NCK) Furs. This unique business involved buying, processing and selling furs. Neil was still actively involved in this enterprise up until his passing. Neil always had an affinity for trapping, which earned him the nickname of “Muskrat” at the tender age of 6. What an appropriate name for a man in the fur business! Neil also earned the nicknames of “Melon Man,” “Grizzly Adams,” and of course, “Dad” and “Grandpa.”
On April 9, 2011, Neil and June tragically lost their home to an electrical fire. Their entire community, along with friends from multiple states, joined together for fundraising and rebuilding their home. What a blessing this was for the Olivers!
Neil and June worked together like a well-oiled machine, side by side, for more than 45 years. Their daily work involved raising and selling melons to local grocers, managing the operations of their fur business, and tending to the farm.
Neil was an avid sports fan, most especially baseball and football. Neil could often be found dressed in purple, head-to-toe, in support of the Kansas State Wildcats. Neil also enjoyed taking road trips with June to surrounding areas for a chance with lady luck at casinos. Riding motorcycles was another passion that was developed early in his youth. He abandoned this high adventure pursuit while raising his family. However, at the young age of 77, Muskrat purchased another Harley Davidson. He fearlessly traveled across the country, to Sturgis several times, and even south Texas. Neil loved family gatherings and barbeques, which inevitably resulted in shenanigans, pranks, and always lots of laughs.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Charles Oliver.
Neil is survived by his wife, June Oliver, of Downs; two daughters, Sandie (Randy) Ebling of Wichita, Lisa Angell of Columbia, Mo.; five sons, Dean (Yvonne) Oliver of Osborne, Lee (Traci) Oliver of Smith Center, Rex (Sandy) Oliver of Burr Oak, Kent (Jana) Oliver of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Charlie Angell of Columbia, Mo.; a sister, Phyllis Twietmeyer of Cheney; a brother, Dan Oliver of Cheney; 16 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Funeral service was held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, at All Faiths Funeral Chapel in Smith Center. Pastors David Kramer and Mike Gooder officiated. Visitation was held 1-8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, with family present to greet friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Burial took place in South Oak Creek Cemetery in Downs.
Memorials may be given to the Lebanon Fire Department and First Responders and/or Kansas Fur Harvesters Association, and sent in care of the funeral chapel,