Local News

Family Tries to Move On After Dad's Death

Posted November 8, 2007

— It has been a tumultuous week for a Wendell family: They welcomed a second child into the world one night, only to grieve the death of the new father, John, on the next night.

Rexana – now a widow and mother of two – says her family is trying to take their first steps forward after an ordeal they said no one should have to go through.

"It's up and down. One minute, we're all laughing, and the next minute, we're all crying," Joan Bailey, Rexana's mother, said.

John Neyland spent Halloween night at Rex Hospital to see Rexana give birth to their second son, Hudson. He worked one of his three jobs the next day and headed straight from work to see his wife and newborn.

Leaving around 11 p.m., Neyland apparently fell asleep while driving east on U.S. 64 Business just east of Knightdale, state troopers said. His 2003 Nissan sport utility vehicle ran off the road and hit a tree.

When a nurse and hospital chaplain woke Rexana a few hours later, she first thought something had happened to her newborn. When she realized it was John who was in trouble, Rexana "said everything at that point kind of went in slow motion," Baily said.

John's death left a huge void behind for her and their oldest son, 2-year-old Memphis, Rexana said. But she aims to live out John's motto: Family First.

"You give to the kids first, and if you have to eat peanut butter, that's fine," Bailey said.

Three days before he died, John and Rexana talked about getting life insurance policies to keep the family's future secure. They never had the chance to finalize those plans, though, Bailey said.

"They realized that if something happened to him, John, as the big bread-winner of the family, that it was going to be difficult," Bailey.

The family held a memorial service for John on Monday, and Rexana said in a written statement that "well wishes and prayers" have helped sustain them so far.

The Neyland Children's Fund has been set up in memory of John. All donations will go to support Memphis and Hudson. Contributions can be made at any Bank of America location.

"We greatly appreciate the caring support we have received from everyone," Rexana said. "As time begins to heal these very raw wounds, we hope that you all will continue to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers."


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  • Sessy - Italiana Nov 9, 2007

    here is the link to my blog about the Toy family.


  • Sessy - Italiana Nov 9, 2007

    My heart goes out to this family.

    Good friend of mine lost his wife last friday in a horrific car accident leaving him widowed with 4 young children.

    Read my blog if you would like to help... it would GREATLY be appreciated.

    Thank you and God Bless.

  • BEACH Nov 9, 2007

    So sad that this fine young man worked 3 jobs to support his
    family and now they are without a father. I will pray for the
    family and will be making a donation to the children.
    There are so many people that are praying for them.

  • hollylama Nov 9, 2007

    "Family First"...great motto! Wish more people lived with meaning and purpose. I'm sure he will be greatly missed but I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Maybe his passing will enable the children to have a "better" life. I use better sparingly...

  • Concerned Nov 9, 2007

    I am deeply saddened by this huge loss to this family. May God bless them and comfort them in their time of sorrow. I do not know these folks, but I feel this was a wonderful husband, father and friend.

  • 1crazygirl Nov 9, 2007

    I will keep you and your children in my prayers.

  • nona Nov 9, 2007

    below was sent to all media outlets from Rexana Neyland... I figured you all may want to read it...

  • nona Nov 9, 2007

    "On behalf of the Neyland family I would like to thank everyone
    that sent their well wishes and prayers to our family. As I'm
    sure you know this has been a very difficult time for all of us.
    We greatly appreciate the caring support we have received from
    everyone. As time begins to heal these very raw wounds we hope
    that you all will continue to keep our family in your thoughts
    and prayers! The "Neyland Children’s Fund" has been established in loving memory of John Robert Neyland for his two sons (Memphis and Hudson Neyland). Contributions can be made at any Bank of America location. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts."

    Sincerly Yours, Rexana Neyland

  • UpwardlyMobile Nov 9, 2007

    My heart is heavy and I am so sad. I hope she will find some comfort in knowing that there are people out there who care. If everyone could donate just a little something at least she won't have to worry about finances in addition to losing her husband.

  • Mommy2Caleb+Carly Nov 9, 2007

    This is so sad...it still brings tears to my eyes when I read about it or like last night when I saw it on the news. I am just so thankful for my husband. We need to tell the ones we love and care for that we appreciate them every day no matter what. I will be donating as soon as I can.