Today is the final-final for official remembrance of my wonderful father as he is memorialized in his home state of Oklahoma.
Therefore, I would like to share my ‘Celebration of Life’ eulogy for my beloved father, Floyd Neal, as delivered in California earlier this year.
What a sincere honor and a privilege it is to Celebrate The Life of My Dad with you. Dad is a wonderful man and we’re going to celebrate his beautiful life today in the best capacity ever; right? I will use the words such is ‘is’, ‘will’ or ‘are’, in the present-tense because his legacy is strong and endures forever.
Ok, now that we determined we’re going to have a wonderful celebration for Dad today, let me first acknowledge of few folks who are a huge part of Dad’s family who, unfortunately, could not be with us for this celebration but join us in spirit from many miles away.
Mary Alice, Dad’s perfect sister, who lives in Oklahoma would have loved to be here more than anything. Then John and my older brother, Mike, and Mike’s son, Logan, from Florida. It was very special to see the genuinely respectful relationship that Mike and Dad established over the past few years.
Dad became an Angel and went to Heaven on April 21st and he had a lot of terrific company waiting for him when he got there. They must be having the reunion party like no other up in the clouds. It’s heart-warming to know that he is in the presence of such great people.
Dad is an Angel in Heaven with great people such as Aunt Ruth, Aunt Lydia, Uncle George and, of course great Uncle Al.
Dad is also with his mother and father, Lynn and Mama Georgia. He is with his three older brothers, Jewell, Gene and Carl. Dad is reunited with someone he really respected, Mary Alice’s husband, Leonard. And, of course, he is finally, again, with our youngest brother, Robert Matthew. Actually I’m sort of jealous for the good times they must be having.
Today, as Dad wanted, is all about you; his friends and family. So for this very reason I would like to share some great moments and stories that are his legacy. I will share in the most fitting fashion I could possibly imagine that speaks FLOYD NEAL; through a crossword puzzle!
For those that might not know, Dad loves crossword puzzles and he would work the daily, complicated, version in the newspaper and always completed it without cheating. He is blessed with a great vocabulary (all self-taught by-the-way) and a constant desire to always learn new things.
So for Dad’s 92nd birthday I made a request on my personal Facebook for friends and family to contribute one word that would fit into the crossword puzzle starting words of FLOYD NEAL. The response was absolutely amazing and we quickly filled a complete crossword puzzle as you can see.
Then for his 93rd birthday I had every intention of making this exact cake seen to the left but this turned out to be a tad too ambitious and Brandee, rightfully-so, suggested that I temper my ambitions and we made brownies in the letters of his name as you can see in the right photo. These were a big hit as Dad certainly has a sweet-tooth.
For the rest of my talk today will be in the theme of a crossword puzzle. The following are your, friends and family, statements which I would like to share in return of my gratitude to everyone for your attendance today and your contributions to sharing Dad’s legacy.
Sometimes Friendly might be an overly used term which could unintentionally cheapen the meaning of the word but Dad is simply a Friendly person by-all-accounts. His Friendly nature is evidenced in his body of work, which was his life and legacy. To-a-person whether you where his immediate family, friends, co-workers or a complete stranger, never an ill-word of Floyd was ever mentioned. In fact, just the opposite. People where always sharing great stories or memories of his Friendly personality.
The words ‘Loyal’ and ‘Floyd Neal’ should be synonyms because the meaning is exactly the same. Dad was always so supportive and loyal for others. He was Loyal to his business associates. He was always so Loyal to his friends. And, of course, he was always so Loyal to his family. I can tell you for a personal fact that Dad’s Loyalty has always provided me with such confidence to be the best I can be in life.
Dad always provided me with such positive energy to challenge myself to be better. He knew I was a hard-worker but he taught me to work smarter. He engrained into my very spirit a sincere compassion for other people’s success which I value so much to-this-day.
Never would anyone accuse Dad of being a shy person. He was extremely Outgoing. There was never a person that he wouldn’t enjoy striking-up a conversation with.
One story that demonstrates Dad’s Outgoing personality is the time that John and I took him golfing for Father’s Day of 2007. As you can see in the photo John had got us matching Sierra Nevada shirts so we put them on and headed to the golf course.
The course was a bit busy that day so the three of us were paired with two young guys, probably in their early twenties. So it was the five of us out there: four 20 to 30-something year olds and Dad who was 84 at the time.
Due to the heat of the day and Dad’s age we all agreed that we would take it easy on him. This quickly changed and the match became truly competitive as us young-guys were hitting it longer but far too often in the water, under a tree or completely out of bounds. Meanwhile, Dad was consistently hitting it not as long, yet right down the middle. Of course we wanted to show-off our skills and Dad whipped us all with his better strategy, logic and consistency. It is a wonderful memory.
Youthfulness was gifted from Dad’s beloved mother, Mama Georgia. She lived to be nearly 103 years young and she possessed youthful compassion for others until her last days.
One story of Mama Georgia which I would like to share is famous among friends and family. You see even in her late 90’s see was fairly independent still living in her own home. She had many much ‘younger’ friends in their 80’s or early 90’s. One-day Grandma was spotted walking down the street by herself with some sort of meal in her hands. I can’t recall exactly whom stopped and asked her if she was lost or alright considering her age. She quickly answered, “well I’m delivering this meal to my friend because they need it.” Her friend was something like 15-20 years younger than her but yet she truly put others first.
Dad also had this gift of Youthful compassion for others. As recently as early April he was having such fun at John and Rachelle’s wedding. Then on his birthday this past April 13th he was being the typical practical joker that he loved to be.
A Dedicated man-on-a-mission is surely what my father was when he left Oklahoma at an early age. He was Dedicated to make something spectacular of his life; and that’s exactly what he did.
I heard that he jumped some rail-trains, at an extreme passenger discount I might add, and headed to California. As I recall when he finally arrived in California, Dad, Aunt Pat and Aunt Rosalie became united as an extended family. They all became closer as a family and they all were, not only Dad, to succeed in establishing great families of their own; which, I’m gladto report, they all have done. This is sincere Dedication.
I’ll always cherish the great memories of visits Aunt Pat and Uncle Al’s house with Dad where we always enjoyed so much fun.
Nice is not a debatable adjective to describe Dad’s personality. He just is genuinely Nice and that’s the end of it. Mr. Floyd Neal is, without a doubt, one of the nicest people in the world. He always conducted his professional and personal life as such.
Over the past 1 ½ years Dad had spent a lot of time in the hospital constantly dealing with different strangers such as the doctors, nurses and other care-givers. Each of these exceptional persons gave great care for Dad, which I really appreciate. All these terrific care-givers would always comment on how Nice he was and his wonderful sense-of-humor. Dad was always Nice enough to come up with a witty comment that always kept a smile on people’s faces.
Several of his favorite witty go-to answers were: “How are you feeling Floyd?”, “Well, with my fingers of course” he would answer. Another favorite was “How did you sleep last night Floyd?”, “With my eyes closed of course”, he would enthusiastically answer.
Dad was a savvy business man for sure. His style was to earn business through sincerity and honesty. Yes, believe or not, you can still be honest in business and still be successful. In fact, one of Dad’s stock brokers through the years, EF Hutton, had a slogan at one time that said “We make money the old fashioned way, WE EARN IT”. And that’s Dads business philosophy. In his machining business, Timpe & Neal, he was a stickler for quality to earn the trust of his clients. He would often tell heartwarming stories of working with HP, IBM and other technology giants.
He was very proud of the fact that he purchased a struggling business at the time and eventually had the shop running 24×7 hours, 365 days per year. “We never had to close the shop or shut the doors”, he proud explained. Eventually, Dad would sell his interest in his Company to his business partner and begin his semi-retirement as a stay-home Dad.
Dad is an Awesome family man.
In addition to golf, another sport Dad really enjoys is water skiing. We owned two boats growing up and Dad took us boating, and water skiing in particular, as often as he could.
After a few false starts and several boat trips, Dad finally taught me to ski. I’m a ‘two-planker’ and I never learned to use just one ski. However, from I understand that Dad was pretty darn good on single-ski. Dad was always tasked with driving the boat so he couldn’t ski himself so when it came down to teaching Matt how to ski, that responsibility became mine.
Dad had the Awesome patience to drive the boat and make repeated passes to circle-around and straighten the line after many, many crash events by Matt. I wasn’t such a good teacher but I was privileged to work with Matt and teach him this skill that Dad had taught me.
I would be in the water with Matt and coach him on the proper body position, then also hold his ski’s at the right angle with just the tips out of the water as Dad instructed. “Just the tips! Just the tips! Lean back and relax. Let the boat pull you. Don’t lean forward.”, Dad would teach.
Eventually working together, I’m glad to report, that Dad, Matt and I got Matt to learn the skill of water skiing himself.
I had never considered Water Skiing in Heaven but now that I consider-it I guess Dad and Matt are enjoying Awesome times Out on the Lake right about now. Dad is an Awesome Father.
Dad is an incredibly Loving person. No one would ever deny this fact. He is a Loving father to his four sons; Mike, me, John and Robert. Dad loves all of his sons equally, without exception.
He is proud of each of our individual personalities and he always supported whatever we wanted to do with our lives.
After Dad sold his business and joined semi-retirement he purchased a motorhome. The main purpose, and most of the usage, was the Neal Family annual trip to Oklahoma to visit Dad’s Loving family.
Every year, without exception, we would make the journey and it was always so much fun with great memories. Dad enjoyed taking us on stops along the way such as the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest as well as other landmarks.
Of course the highlight of every trip was the arrival in Oklahoma to visit with our family. Dad, and I know the rest of us as well, enjoyed all the wonderful times with Grandma, Grandpa, Jewell, Audrey, Carl, Christine, Gene, Mary Alice and the rest of the extended family. These memories are an amazing testament about the decency of a Loving Family.
So there you have it; a crossword puzzle summary of a great man. I would like to say that Floyd Neal is a Friendly, Loyal, Outgoing, Youthful, Dedicated, Nice, Entrepreneurial, Awesome and Loving person. He lived his life with great dignity, passion and led by example. Dad leaves a terrific legacy that others should aspire to.
As I mentioned in my opening remarks, today is about Celebrating The Life of My Dad and Dad always want to celebrate others.
So, in closing, what you are seeing on the screen now (I’m sure it’s tough to read) is many, many random notes from family, friends and even strangers commenting on Dad’s legacy. Comments such as ‘good dude’, ‘nice guy’ and ‘tinkering in heaven’ where Dad truly touched people emotionally. This is a great testament to a great man.
Dad is reunited with his loving mother and father, his three older brothers and his youngest son. Please enjoy the big celebration in the sky Dad; I can hope to only be half the man you are. Until we meet again.