End of Watch: The Death of Okaloosa County Deputy Michael David Neau

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EOW: September 5, 2021

On one hand, Niceville, Florida could be called a sleepy southern town in the Florida panhandle. On the other hand, maybe it’s a growing beautiful town that plays the temporary home to thousands of USAF personnel. Well, which one is it? Yes. Both.

Niceville was first named “Boggy,” after Boggy Bayou that runs along the town’s western shore. After a while, somebody realized, “Hey, that’s a stupid name for such a lovely place. It’s not boggy, but who wants to move to a place called Boggy?  Why not call it Niceville? So, in 1910, they did.

June 9, 1985, was hot – a typical Florida Panhandle June day. It was hot and humid. Of course, pockets of rain popped up here and there. An event was taking place that would change many lives for a long time. Michael David was born to Michael and Deborah Neau.

After high school, Michael joined the U.S. Air Force and spent time in Korea, where he learned to love the food. Before long, however, Michael decided to change his career path. In 2011, he applied for and was hired at the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office as a deputy sheriff. He got his law enforcement basic recruit training at nearby Northwest Florida State College. He also completed his associate’s degree.   

On March 16, 2019, Michael married the former Mechelle Kendrick. With the deal came the kids – Damien, Ryan, Lilia, Easton, Layla, and Adalynn – his own instant basketball team plus one!

As happened in many cases, the Covid virus attacked Michael as he was working in the court system in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He had been a deputy for ten years. Of course, the legal system cannot be stopped – even in times of pandemic. So, unlike stores and schools that shut down, the court was kept open, and officers continued to deal with the public. As a result, Michael came down with Covid and, unlike most cases, his became worse and worse. Finally, it took its toll on the giant of a man. Michael David Neau died on Friday, September 5, 2021.

Michael was survived by his wife, Mechelle; his children; Damien (14), Ryan (12), Lilia (10), Easton (8), Layla (7), and Adalynn (4); his parents, Michael and Deborah; his sister Rochelle; and brothers Christopher, Matthew, and Joseph. 

Michael’s funeral procession

Due to the pandemic, a celebration of life service was postponed for a month. It took place on Monday, September 13 at 4 p.m.at Beachside Community Church.

A fitting tribute by Michael’s daughter, Ryan, was published in the newspaper…

Hi, my name is Ryan Neau. My dad was one of the best deputies I ever saw. He loved to tell us stories about work. I loved him soooo much. I hope he has a good time in heaven.

Ryan Faith Neau

November 3, 2021

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