Phil Neel, creator of Aubie, died this morning. He was 84.
According to Neel’s daughter Cindy Huguley, Mr. Neel passed away in his sleep at approximately 3:30 am. He had been battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma for several years and suffered congestive heart failure in March.
“He had been doing good this very week but just went to sleep and didn’t wake up,” Hugeley said. “It’s about as peaceful as you can go.”
To Auburn fans, Neel is mostly known as the father of Aubie, the cartoon tiger turned live-action mascot for Auburn University, which Neel brought to life early in his career as a cartoonist for the Birmingham Post-Herald and which graced the cover of nearly every Auburn football program from 1959 until 1976.
Early program appearances of Auburn for for hundreds of dollars on Internet auction sites like eBay and his 3-D manifestation, more commonly recognized among today’s Tigers fans, garners national collegiate mascot awards on a regular basis.
Three of Neel’s children–Mike, Rick and Cindy–graduated from Auburn. Each received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the university’s highest humanitarian award. Mike and Rick played football for the Tigers in the 1970s.
“We have so much reason to celebrate his life,” Hugely said. “We’re just celebrating someone getting to go heaven before us.”
Neel’s funeral will be this Friday at 11 a.m. at Deerfoot Baptist Church in Trussville.
Related: The Aubie Archives—The Art of Phil Neel: An Introduction?
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* John Travolta in an Auburn shirt
* Playboy in Auburn, 1994
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God bless you Mr. Neel. My heart goes out to the Neel family. I always wanted to shake his hand and tell him “Thank you.”
John Carvalho says
I was a classmate of Cindy’s at Auburn in the 1970s and Mike was a positive influence on me and a lot of students at Auburn at the time. They were a reflection of their dad, who was even a better person than he was a cartoonist. He gave Auburn “Aubie,” but he gave so many people so much more as well. RIP and peace and comfort to a special family.
Bill Holbrook says
A great loss. I’ve always admired him.
Jim Franklin- AU '73 says
We lived right up the hill from the Neels in South East Lake and I went to Auburn with all three, as did my two younger sisters
I’ll never forget the banner Mr. Neel created for the 1972 “Amazins” for their football dinner. He was fine man, always interested in you as a person .
Auburn folks have much to be thankful for in our world that came directly from his fertile mind and talented pen.
MIke, Rick and Cindy, your have our sympathy and our gratitude for sharing your wonderful Dad with all of us.
War EAGLE, PHIL!
MJ Scott says
RIP to a great, great Auburn man.
BARRY MASK - '83 says
Great , talented and sweet guy ….I last talked with him by phone two summers ago . I called him “Aubie’s Dad” and he chuckled ….what his character has done for Auburn has meant so much !
I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Mr. Neel several times and I must say what a fine man, a true Auburn Man who will live on forever in our hearts and minds each time we see Aubie. My prayers to the family. Heaven has gained a new star today, Rest In Peace.
God created Aubie