A history major, he was a member of the Pre-Law Society and Prospect Club, and roomed with Robert Brown. He earned his law degree at the University of Michigan Law School in 1954 and practiced law in St. Louis for the next 20 years. During this time he was a Democratic delegate to the Missouri state legislature from 1959 to 1963. From 1974 to 1977 he was general counsel for Gateway Transportation Co. in La Crosse.
Neil’s career in the judiciary commenced in 1977, when he first was appointed an administrative law judge in the Social Security Administration. In 1979 he had a heart attack and was advised to have bypass surgery; instead he tackled the problem with exercise and diet. Within 10 months he was running 45 miles a week and had reduced his weight from 183 to 147 pounds.
Neil’s marriage to Lois Banzet ended in divorce. They were the parents of Eric, Mark, and Lise Duraes. He died Dec. 23, 2007, at home in Oakland, Calif., and is survived by Rachel, his wife and partner of 18 years; his children; and four grandchildren.