A Season of a Lifetime
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, …” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Robert Lee Neal, son of the late Edith Neal McRae and the late Burney Neal, was born August 29, 1939 in Marion, South Carolina. After a chronic illness he departed this life on Sunday, October 14, 2018 at McLeod Hospital in Florence, South Carolina.
Robert’s Christian experience began as a toddler at the Sandy Grove Holiness Church of Marion and later at Effingham Baptist Church of Mullins. While at Effingham Baptist Church, he sang on the Junior Choir and became the lead singer. Robert also sang with many gospel groups and enjoyed listening to gospel music during his many travels. He often remarked that he had church everywhere he went.
He began his formative education at The Smith-Swamp School centrally located between Mullins and Marion, SC, transferring in 7th grade to the Mullins School District. His love for sports began at Palmetto High School where he excelled in football and basketball, earning yearly the Palmetto High School Block “P.” While attending Palmetto High School, he was a school bus driver. He graduated with the Class of ’57 as salutatorian. After high school, Robert attended Shaw University, Raleigh, NC where he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and Science.
After college, Robert enlisted into the US Army and became a member of the 82nd Airborne Division where because of his mathematical background, he became a part of the fire mission control and training NCOIC for the 90 mm Howitzer. He received an honorable discharge and proudly referred to himself as “Sergeant Daddy.”
As an educator, Robert taught Mathematics at Carver Elementary School, Myrtle Beach Junior High School, Myrtle Beach, SC. and Hamer Canaan Elementary School, Hamer, SC. He also served as Director of the Neighborhood Youth Core Program in Myrtle Beach, SC and Marion County. He played, and refereed many community recreational events and tournaments, was an avid social card player and pool shark. Robert enjoyed watching old westerns on TV and listening to old gospel. A self-made auto mechanic, he made sure his vehicles ran to his satisfaction.
Sara Lee Hosiery Cooperation began operations in Marion County and Robert was employed in various management capacities which included: Manager of the Packing Department, Jamaican Coordinator and Industrial Engineer Technician.
Robert Neal was married to Alberta Campbell Sampson of Conway SC and to this union two children were born Aprelle and Robert Michael. Robert married Linda Owens Neal and they were blessed with two daughters, Chrystle and Anita (deceased)
Robert was a devoted member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. His masonic affiliations include Past Master of Effingham Lodge # 442 which later merging with Pilgrim Lodge #326 where he served as secretary, member of McDonald Consistory # 226,and Bejilah Temple # 163.
Robert’s life was a blessing and his memory a treasure. We thank God for allowing Robert Lee Neal to live 28,902 days in our midst. To know him was to love him. He had a strong passion for the things he did for family and friends. His granddaughter Y’Chae was his heart string, his roadie, his nurse, and driver. She was always at his beckon and call. He was “GRAND ROBERT” to his grandchildren. He loved them all.
Robert’s memory will live on in our hearts. Among those who will forever cherish his memory are faithful friend & companion, Linda Owens Neal, Children: Aprelle Hill (Ron) of Rock Hill SC, Robert Michael Neal (Christine) of Raleigh NC, Bridgette Nelson (Ralph) of New York, and Chrystle Leigh Neal (Walt) of Mullins SC. One brother, Jimmy C. Neal, Sr. of Mullins, SC. Lee, Mack, Alexander, Willie, Ann, and Maxie McRae, extended sisters: Norma Bullard, Rosa Hendricks and Willie M Rouse. 17 Grandchildren; 12 Great Grandchildren. One niece, Diedre Neal; One nephew, Jimmy Neal; a host of extended relatives, friends and special friends, Joe Harrison, Robert Kidd and Ernest Connor.