McNIEL, GEORGE WILLIAM (1931 ~ 2017). The following is an obituary for former Texas State Auditor George McNiel. The obituary was provided by Harrell Funeral Home of Austin.
George W. McNiel went to his heavenly reward on September 6, 2017. He was born on February 21, 1931, in San Marcos, Texas to William and Lora Mae Riley McNiel. His education included elementary school at the laboratory school of Southwest Texas Teachers College, now Texas State University, high school at San Marcos Academy, and college at Baylor University.
When he left for Baylor at age sixteen his mother gave him $100.00 and told him to find a job and get an education like his father had done. With this on his mind, when he stepped up to the cashier’s counter to pay his tuition and room fees he recognized the sound of an old Burroughs posting machine running somewhere out of sight. He asked the cashier if they could use some help running that machine and after demonstrating that he was indeed proficient with the process, he was hired not as a student employee but as a half time regular employee. This, plus extra help from his mother provided the cost of his education as well as an engagement ring and a modest savings account. Of course, the cost of higher education was much less in those days. His tuition was $37.50 for a normal course load his first quarter.
At Baylor he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in accounting and a minor in economics. There he also participated in the Air Force ROTC program and was designated the Distinguished Military Student for 1952 which entitled him to a regular commission. After serving his two-year commitment with the Air Force Auditor General’s Department he resigned his commission, passed the CPA Examination and began an accounting career with the Houston office of Author Andersen & Co. During his military tour, he married the former Barbara Jo Metz of Gonzales, his Baylor sweetheart, and they had three sons, Mark, Earl and Glen, all successful and all church deacons.
With the valuable experience gleaned at Arthur Andersen he and Barbara, thinking that Austin was a better place to raise a family, moved there where he first practiced public accounting. And then yielding to a lifelong service motivation, and despite a reduction in income, went to work at the State Auditor’s Office as a staff auditor. He rose rapidly through the ranks and after two years became the supervisor of College and University audits, after two more years the First Assistant State Auditor, and after two more years was appointed by the Legislative Audit Committee to be the State Auditor of Texas in May of 1968. He served in this capacity for seventeen years.
As the State Auditor he was a counselor on fiscal matters to State officials high and low alike. His reports provided an independent and verified window through which creditors, state administrators and officials, and the public could view the State’s fiscal affairs. He had an extensive understanding of State Government finances matched by few and derived from the examination of its fiscal affairs without political motivation or prejudice. Thus, he became a friendly advisor to the Executive, Legislative, Judicial and Higher Education segments of State Government.
Subsequently, he joined the staff of the University of Texas System Administration and served as the Chancellor’s Financial Associate for six years. While on the Chancellor’s staff he organized the assembly of the necessary information and prepared the University’s very first Federal Income Tax Return dealing with the University’s unrelated business income.
Soon after assuming his responsibilities as State Auditor, George met with the nation’s bond rating agencies to see if his reports could be made more useful to their analysts, realizing that they were more accustomed to reviewing commercial financial statements rather than those based on fund accounting. Those efforts were successful and with his first round of reports the State’s credit rating on its general obligations rose to the highest classification available and remained that way throughout his tenure. He was proud of the fact that the savings to the State were, without doubt, multiple times the cost of operating his office.
George made a public profession of his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior at age nine and was ordained a Deacon in the Baptist Church at age twenty-six. He was a long-time member of Hyde Park Baptist Church of Austin serving in this capacity and, at his passing, a member of Hays Hills Baptist Church of Buda which was nearer his residence.
In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by six grandchildren, three of whom are married: Andrew and wife Michelle, Wayne, Daniel, Hannah and husband Logun Stevenson, Lacey, and David and wife Katie.