William H. Neff was born in 1832 on a farm near Howard. He became a cabinet and casket maker when he was of age. He went as a young man to fight in the civil war, where he was captured by the southern army and held in two different prison camps until the war was over. It was at that time that embalming with the use of chemicals came into its own. Upon his return from the war, William continued with his cabinet and casket making and also started the Neff Funeral Home in Howard, Pa. He married Margaret Thompson of Howard and to them was born on March 13, 1873 a son, Lot H. Neff. William continued with the funeral home until 1900. He passed away in 1913.
The Second Generation
After William passed away in 1913, Lot H. Neff took over at the funeral home. Lot had worked with his father in the funeral business since he was 15 or 16 years of age.He was the first funeral director in Centre County to have an automobile hearse. Lot and his first wife, Bertha had two sons Willard M. and G. Gilbert Neff, Sr. These boys followed Lot into the funeral business. Lot retired in 1947 with 59 years of service to the Howard Community. He passed away on May 23, 1962 at the age of 89.
The Third Generation
Willard M. Neff was a veteran of World War I having served with the 20th Field Artillery in Europe. After the war he returned to join his father Lot in business. In 1947 he took over the Howard funeral home and continued there until 1955 when he went into semi-retirement after he suffered a stroke. His son W. Robert had joined him in the Howard business in 1952. Willard passed away in 1965.
Lot helped his son G. Gilbert to purchase a funeral home and furniture business in Millheim in from S. M. Campbell in 1931. He continued there until his death in 1961. His son George G. Neff, Jr then took over the business.
The Fourth Generation
W. Robert Neff joined his father Willard in business in 1952. After Willard passed away in 1965 Robert became owner of the Neff Funeral Home in Howard until his retirement in 1996. Bob served as Centre County Coroner for 32 years. Bob married the former Beulah Quiggle from Sugar Valley. They have 3 daughters and 1 son, Steven who followed Bob into the funeral business. In 1996 after Bob retired the funeral home was sold to Curtis Kader and for the first time in over 100 years the funeral home was not owned by a Neff. W. Robert Neff passed away on June 19, 2010.
In 1961 when his father G. Gilbert Neff, Sr. passed away; George G. Neff, Jr. took over ownership of the funeral home and furniture store in Millheim. George went into semi-retirement in 1986 when the funeral home was sold to Steven R. Neff, the fifth generation of Neff's to own the business.
William Neff assisted George for a period of time.
The Fifth Generation
Steve took over the Neff Funeral Home in Millheim in January of 1986 when George Jr. went into semi retirement. George helped Steve until he became familiar with the people of the area and they became familiar with him. He has continued to this day to provide the quality service to the resident's of the surrounding areas that they have come to expect from the Neff name. When Steve retires it will be the end of the Neff name being associated with either the funeral home in Howard or the Millheim funeral home.