Neil Guffogg was the quintessential definition of a self-made man, born as Neville in Bolton England in 1937. Neville grew up during WWII and the memories of food rationing coupled with the sirens announcing incoming planes and bombs being dropped from the Nazi war planes had an impact on him that he never forgot. He didn't know his father and his mother ruled the house with an iron fist. Growing up a sickly child and being farmed out to different schools made him want to better himself. At the age of 15, after having finished school, he went to work in the coal mines and at 16 began to lift weights. Within a year he went from a 100 lb weakling to a 160 lb bodybuilder. He was married and a father at 17, and in 1957, decided to come to America in hopes of finding a better life.
Leaving his brother, sisters, and mother behind, he set out for a new land with his wife and two year old daughter, Lisa, crossing the Atlantic by ship, landing at Ellis island, then making their way west. Upon arriving in southern California, he felt he had landed in paradise, with the never ending sunshine and palm trees. His first reality check was that he needed to drive a car, which he had never done. His second reality check was that his Northern English accent was so thick, nobody could understand him. He set out to make himself into an American to live his dream. When Neville applied for his Green Card, the name that came back was Neil. Afraid of causing any issues, he became Neil Guffogg, and later a proud American citizen. In 1962, Neil and Patricia Pate were married in Las Vegas and later that year, their son Shane was born. In 1964, Neil met Sid Marke while on a family camping trip to Huntington lake. Sid and his wife Nettie had a bird farm in Strathmore called Marke Aviaries. Mesmerized with the idea of an exotic bird farm, a visit was made and a great love for the San Joaquin Valley began.
In 1966, Neil and Patricia decided to
move to Lindsay, California, wanting to be away from Los Angeles and raise their son in a small town. For the next 9 years, Neil had a handful of jobs, each time changing with the intention of bettering himself. All the while, they always had bird aviaries in the backyard as a way of earning a little extra income. In 1975, Sid and Nettie called them saying they had decided to retire and offered them the bird farm. Neil jumped at the chance of being his own boss. The home that came with the business was the old Prairie Center School. Over the next decade the family remodeled the 5,000 square foot school into a home while building up the business. Over the years, it became a right of passage for the teenage boys in the area to work for Neil, who expected his helpers to be on time and work as hard as he did. His hobby was golf and at the pinnacle of his game he was a 3 handicapper.
In 2016, Patricia passed away, leaving Neil heart broken. The past four years were spent at his home, taking care of the dream that they worked so hard to build.
Neil is survived by his daughter Lisa, son Shane, and grandson, Neville.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Neil Guffogg, please visit our floral store.