John “Jack” T. Neises was born in 1930 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to parents recently emigrated from Germany. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati, and then served in the Korean War as a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School and worked as a manufacturing and sales executive with Fortune 500 companies, most notably Xerox Corporation, then headquartered in Rochester, New York.
In 1970, Jack became one of three founding partners of Charles River Ventures, a leading early-stage venture capital firm based in Massachusetts that played a crucial role in the creation of many companies and new technologies. In Boston, he was awarded the Silver Beaver Medal for his work with the Boy Scouts of America, and supported the Handel Haydn Society as well as many other causes.
Jack and his wife Grace retired to Savannah in 1992, and they became active philanthropists and volunteers at local institutions. Jack worked as a home builder for Habitat for Humanity, as an organizer for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games sailing events in Savannah and as Treasurer, and then Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Telfair Museums.
Grace Ludeke was born on October 18, 1929, in Cincinnati, Ohio. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with high honors from the University of Cincinnati, where she met Jack. They married in 1951 and raised their three children in the Boston area and in New Hampshire. Jack and Grace were married for 58 years.
After her children were grown, Grace became a business manager of a Norwood practice of four orthopedic surgeons. She was also involved with the Handel Haydn Society, and as a board member and with the Florence Crittenden Society, Wellesley Newcomers, New Hampshire Historical Society, and New London Historical Society.
In Savannah, Grace became active in a variety of educational and arts organizations including the Georgia Historical Society, serving on the Board of Curators. She was also involved with Parent and Child, Second Harvest, Telfair Museum, Savannah Symphony Women’s Guild, Lucas Theatre, and the Georgia Nature Conservancy.
Grace Neises died on January 10, 2010, age 80, followed by Jack Neises on January 22, 2014, at 83.
In 2001, the Neises established the John and Grace Neises Fund at the Georgia Historical Society, ensuring in perpetuity that their shared commitment to history education and will continue.