Dan and Sylvia Neal, brother and sister-in-law of Veda Meyer,

passed away within six months of each other

To see Sylvia's web page click below


Dan Neal’s Eulogy


Thank you all for coming. It means so much for our family that you came here today to remember my father. And thank you for the honor of being able to share a few memories with you.


Danny was born in Butler, Pennsylvania on January 31, 1930. In 1947, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving for almost 10 years. On September 26, 1954, he married Sylvia Weisberg and relocated to New York. Their son Bruce was born the following year. The family moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where son Harry was born in 1956. After leaving the Navy in 1957, the Neal’s moved to Grants, New Mexico, where son Steven was born in 1957. Dan worked at radio station KMIN in Grants, until the family moved west to California in 1958, where daughter Laurie was born in 1960.


Dan spent the balance of the 1960’s working for Lockheed, Norco electric Vehicle Company, and the Bermite Powder Company. The Neal’s relocated to Bakersfield in 1973, where he spent the 1970’s working in the television and insurance businesses.


The end of the 1970’s and the beginning of the 1980’s heralded the arrival of seven grandchildren: Jonathan (Harry’s son), Dyanna and Tommy (Laurie’s kids) and Sarah, Alisa, Debra and David (Bruce’s gang). Dan spent the first half of the 1980’s in the irrigation business, but returned to his first love – the radio business, in the mid 1980’s, where he worked until 1996.


The late 1990’s and the early years of the new century were a busy time for Dan. His commitment to public service continued with several stints on the Bakersfield Grand Jury, and he became more active than ever with Temple Beth El, volunteering for various projects and serving on committees.


As time passed, my mother’s health and strength began to fail, and Dan began the final labor of his life. It was a labor of love; he cared for my mother in her final years until her passing this past September. Like a ship without a rudder, Dan struggled these past few months, trying begin life anew without his wife Sylvia, who had been with him constantly since the early 1950’s. Our family is grateful to everyone who made the effort to reach out to him as his time with us wound down.


The years of my and my sibling’s childhood and teen years always come to the forefront of my mind when I remember my parents. Sure, there were some tough times as we tried to maintain a sense of normalcy during my mother’s recovery from her catastrophic car accident. And my father had his hands full, taking care of the household and four kids, after working all day, heading over to the hospital, then rushing home to get us fed and taken care of. But somehow he still summoned the energy to play outside with us, take us places, and show us a good time every day. It meant the world to us! Did the house always get cleaned spic and span? No. Did our chores always get done? No. Did we always go to bed on time? No. Did we sometimes put off things we were supposed to do if there was a good time to be had instead? Hell, yes! But that’s the kind of father he was, and we loved him for it.


When we became teenagers and it came time for us to get our driver’s licenses and start driving, my parents couldn’t afford to buy us cars. I bought an old black MG for $200, and went outside to work on it, hoping to get it road worthy in time to drive it to school. I slithered underneath it, and as I reached for a wrench, I was startled to feel it handed to me, then, I was even more surprised to see my father crawl down beside me and start helping me. That he would lay in the dirt for hours with me, fixing up that car, when the easy button would have been to just send it to a mechanic for repair tells more about what kind of father – and what kind of man he was, and why we loved him.


My father’s physical strength was amazing in his younger days. One of my favorite photos is of him practicing a water rescue while he was in the navy – he towed a fellow sailor into shallow water and then hoisted him onto his shoulders, carrying him out of the water and up the embankment to safety with ease – when he weighed all of 135 pounds. Incidentally, the fellow he carried weighed 265 pounds, almost twice his body weight! Not many people have the ability to hoist and carry twice their weight, but he did, as the photo shows.

That great strength of his was both a blessing, and in some ways, a curse. It sustained him through more than seventy years of heavy smoking – yes, we begged him to quit, to no avail – and allowed him to shake off the physical effects of the five or six strokes he suffered these past few years. He never did become infirm, but the hardest part for we family members was seeing how much his sunny personality changed during this time of his life as the strokes began to take their inevitable toll. Before, family pictures were always brightened by his sunbeam smile, and he livened up any get-together he was a part of, and believe me, there were many of them. Dan was always on the A-list of invitees to a party, because he always guaranteed that a good time would be had by all. As his persona began to change, and the sunny disposition became at first gloomy, then cranky, those party invitations began to dry up. Time began to dull his sharp wit, but his progressive deafness played a part as well. He was adept at lip-reading, but he often missed the punch lines of jokes, or couldn’t follow the point of a story, especially in noisy environments. But there was one thing that brought him back to the man he was every time: kids. No one loved being around children more than Dan, and it brought all of us great pleasure to see that smile of his again when he was around them. I think what I learned from his physical failings, was how much was still left to give after so much had been taken away from him. It was remarkable. So many people continued to want to be around him, even during these last few difficult months. There was something about him that people liked, and they were willing to ignore his sometimes cranky ways and tobacco smell just to be with him for a while, and that is a memory all of us will treasure forever.


I will close with a few quotes that came to mind when I thought about my father as I made my way to Bakersfield from Montana. The first one was from an ancient Hebrew proverb, which said, “Say not in grief he is no more - but live in thankfulness that he was.”

The second quote I’d like to share is a Buddhist saying, which goes like this: Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift, which is why it is called the present. What the caterpillar perceives is the end to the butterfly is just the beginning. Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.

And there is one from Frank Sinatra, who sang: My friend, I'll say it clear; I've lived a life that's full; I traveled each and every highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way. That was Dan, all right.


And finally, to honor my father’s love for children, I want to end with a quote from the author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Suess, who said, don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.


Rest in peace, Dad. We’ll sure miss you.

Steve Neal