Blades points toward retirement

Dr. Neal Blades directs students during a classroom presentation. Blades will retire after this spring.

Julie Lybarger

Dr. Neal Blades directs students during a classroom presentation. Blades will retire after this spring.

Becky Husky

After 43 years, Dr. Neal Blades is finally leaving college.

The marketing professor plans to retire this summer, with 21 years of his career spent at Missouri Southern. From 2003 to 2007, he served as the Department Head of Marketing and Management. Among other things, Blades has served as chairman of both the Accreditation Committee and the Sabbatical Committee.

“I’m looking forward to having a little time to travel and visit with friends and just kind of see what the world may have outside of college,” Blades said. “I don’t have any real exact plans. I’m just going to see what develops.”

Blades grew up in Moss Point, Miss. His family owned a hardware store there, and so he was around business from an early age.

“I really went off to college with the idea that I would come back to my family’s business,” Blades said. “But, I just never quite made it back to my home town.”

While working on his undergraduate degree, Blades says he realized how much he enjoyed being a student. His love for learning and desire to stay on college campuses caused him to rethink his future. After seeing how much his own professors enjoyed teaching, he decided it might be the path for him as well.

Blades received his Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Arkansas in 1973. He taught on many campuses, such as Auburn University and Texas Woman’s University, before accepting a position at Missouri Southern.

“In 1987, I was kind of like the Clampetts,” he said, referring to the Beverly Hillbillies T.V. show. “I packed up the family and we moved up here to Joplin and I’ve been here at Missouri Southern ever since.”

Blades says he is pleased with his career and has worked with many wonderful people, especially the thousands of students he has taught over the years.

“Oh, you’ll get a few along the way that make you want to chew a handful of nails,” Blades said. “But, for the most part, college students are just wonderful people. I’ve really loved my students.”

One of the most rewarding things for Blades has been watching his students graduate and progress in their careers.

“It’s just kind of like seeing your children grow up,” he said. “I’ve got a bunch of students out there that I’m really proud of.”

Blades’ retirement will not go unmissed by fellow faculty members.

“He’s been at this institution for over 20 years and has contributed a lot in the marketing area,” said Dr. Beverly Block, department head of marketing. “He’s just a nice person, friendly. We’ll miss having him around.”

Students will miss him as well.

“Dr. Blades is probably the nicest, most caring person I’ve ever met,” said Ashton Lawrence, senior marketing and management major, who worked as his student assistant. “Everyone loved to have him in class. He always had a good sense of humor.”

Blades and his wife, Karen, plan on moving to the Dallas, Texas area to be closer to their daughter and her family. Though he will spend the summer months moving, Blades plans to teach a few online classes.

“I’ve loved doing this,” he said. “It’s been a great job and we’ll see what happens when I get out of college.”