Tom Neely, member of first United States Olympic Luge Team, passes away

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – USA Luge was saddened this week to learn of the unexpected death of Tom Neely, a member of the first Olympic luge team at the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck/Igls, Austria.

Robert Thomas Neely, of Ketchum, Idaho, attended George Washington University and was 78 years of age when he passed away on January 18.

In a chilling coincidence, USA Luge and 26 other nations are currently at an updated Igls venue for the 47th International Luge Federation (FIL) World Championships, to be held Friday through Sunday.

Neely and his teammates were all members of the U.S. Armed Forces, serving in Germany. They competed in European races in the seasons prior to the Innsbruck Games. Luge entered the Olympic program in 1964. Private First Class Neely, 25 years of age when he raced in Igls, finished 17th in the singles event that was conducted over four runs.

“Tom and I trained together for the two years leading up to the Games and had one of the best friend/competitor relationships imaginable,” said Bud Feltman, a 1964 Olympic teammate of Neely’s.  “Tom’s passing brought such a flood of special memories and tears. He’ll be missed, but all those special memories make me smile.”

Neely’ list of firsts didn’t stop at those Innsbruck Olympic Games. At the time of his death, he was living in Sun Valley, Idaho where he was an instructor at the country’s first ski resort. He and Feltman remained friends and coworkers for many years, enjoying hunting and fishing trips in their free time.

“I first met Tom while he was trying out for the ski patrol at the U.S. Armed Forces Recreation Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in 1961 while I was scouting for potential lugers within the U.S. Armed Forces for the 1964 Olympic Luge Team,” said V.H. Bob Cole, 1964 Olympic Team Coach. “I shall miss Tom, as will his friends and teammates from the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team that brought the sport of luge into the Olympic Winter Games.”

Memorial services will be held later in the spring, arranged though Wood River Chapel Hailey, Idaho. For more information, please log on to: http://www.woodriverchapel.com/book-of-memories/2825426/Neely-Robert/index.php

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